Ryan Babel has revealed today that he will seek an exit from Anfield if he is not given more playing time in the coming weeks. He has fallen down the pecking order under Benitez and now finds himself as the club’s fourth choice winger behind Riera, Benayoun and Kuyt; he can also play as a central striker but David N’Gog is preferred when Torres is unavailable.
The Dutchman’s outburst will not be looked upon favourable by Benitez in a week when Liverpool’s European ambitions could be ended. With the club already in crisis, squad disharmony is the last thing that is needed. Going public with discontent is often a sure-fire way of hastening a departure from a club. However, a few months ago, Yossi Benayoun spoke to the press about his unhappiness at being left out of the side and now finds himself as one of the side’s most important players. While ultimatums will not be appreciated by the management, at least Babel is showing some form of passion. His anxiousness is understandable; with his place in the Holland squad by no means secure, Babel needs to be playing first-team football in a World Cup year.
He showed with his recent goal against Lyon that he still has the ability to produce magic, but shorn of confidence in recent months, he looks a long way from fulfilling his potential. When Babel arrived at Liverpool in 2007, it was something of a coup; Babel was considered one of the brightest young talents in Europe and the interest in his signature was substantial. He impressed in his first season at the club, with ten goals in all competitions, and became something of a fans’ favourite. However since the arrival of Albert Riera, Babel’s stock has fallen significantly; his form since he scored the winner against Manchester United last September has been patchy at best. Accused of having a poor work ethic, he also risked the wrath of his manager by playing in the Olympics against his wishes.
With Kuyt a certain starter and Benayoun in great form, Babel is unlikely to get his wish to start more games. A rare start against Manchester City was cut short by injury and the talented Dutchman is starting to look lost in a Liverpool shirt. Much has been made of what Liverpool will do in the January transfer window; if they are to strengthen it is likely that Benitez will have to offload some players to balance the books. Babel’s recent poor form means that it will be difficult for Liverpool to recoup what they paid for him, but barring a drastic change in tact from both the player and the manager, it appears as if Babel’s days at Anfield are numbered.