The social networking site, Twitter, has become quite resourceful to Premier League footballers in recent times. Whether players use it purposely to engineer transfers or seek improved contracts we can only assume. But Ryan Babel’s recent ‘tweet’ about his unfortunate tenure at Liverpool so far has only drawn us to debate one thing: Is it time for Roy Hodgson to cash in on the enigma that is Ryan Babel?
I use the term ‘enigma’ because there is no doubting the Dutchman’s ability. A product of the highly-rated Ajax academy, Rafael Benitez signed him as one of Europe’s brightest talents. Although £10 million may have been slightly excessive for a ‘potential star’, no one was doubting the signing.
But it has never quite happened. For reasons unbeknown to us, frustratingly, Babel has never fulfilled the potential we have all, at some point or other, witnessed. Coming off the bench the Dutch international has many times provided that extra spark and fresh legs needed to win a game. But over 90 minutes he too often does little more than make up the numbers.
On Twitter, though, the player himself went some way to excusing his underwhelming impact he has had at Anfield. He said: “I begged lots of times (to do extra training) but it was simply not allowed. And during the season u don’t train very hard cause u have lots games so most sessions we had were without sweating.
“But if I wanted to do some extra which I asked 4 every single day. I didn’t have the permission. I even tried to train extra by doing it sneaky lol .. But nope. And I had to get used to that cause in Ajax we were staying for 1 or 2 hours longer on the pitch by ourselves.”
So are we to believe that Liverpool have had, all this time, a player waiting to burst onto the scene only to be stopped by his manager? I applaud his desire to improve himself but why couldn’t he justify a starting place on match day during regular training sessions like the rest of Benitez’s squad?
This wouldn’t have been any special treatment for a player the current Inter Milan manager regarded as waste, either. If that was the case, Benitez would have accepted the bid from Birmingham City in January of this year, which would have seen the club recoup the majority of the money spent on the player – an easy decision for many. But Rafa stood by him, convinced he had the talent. But still, we wait.
Liverpool have now reached a point of transition: New owners, new manager, whispers of a new stadium and fans hope a fresh start all-round. Roy Hodgson hasn’t endured the smoothest of starts as manager but if he is to be given time to rebuild the squad in the way in which he sees fit, then I’m sure changes in the playing staff department are to continue to be made.
A return of 11 goals since joining Liverpool in 2007 is far short of justifying his price tag. Admittedly, Babel has been plagued by injuries but it seems the Dutchman is running out of time to convince people he is worthy of a place at Anfield. A change may even save Babel himself from becoming stale, which he is in increasing danger of doing wallowing on the sidelines.
Should Liverpool put this down to another signing ‘which never quite happened’? With January fast approaching, it may be best, for both.