The omission of Ryan Babel from yesterday’s squad for match at Hull again opens the question of whether it is the end of his Liverpool career?
As far as Im aware, he isn’t injured, and instead there were two left-backs and Riera on the bench.
Nabil El Zhar is now seemingly ahead of him in the pecking order for wide positions, and with Benayoun’s good form he isn’t getting a look-in at the moment. Since putting in his best performance of the season against Real Madrid at home, he hasn’t started a match, only the odd 10 or 20 minute cameo from the bench.
After arriving from Ajax in summer 2007 for Â£11m, Babel has offered a lot but delivered little. The word ‘potential’ is continually used to describe him, but at almost 23, even he admits “When you reach that you aren’t a potential talent any more.”
Arguably, of all our wide players, Babel is the most suited to playing in the preferred formation of 4231. In my opinion, the two wide players behind the forward need to offer the ability to beat the full back, provide goals and flair – all of which Babel has done, but not consistently. Some might point to his attacking game being restricted by the responsibilities Rafa is so keen to apply to his players.
Compare Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel and look at their appearance statistics, it’s clear the type of player Rafa prefers in the wide positions – not that im saying that’s a bad thing. This isn’t about Kuyt or Rafa, for the record I think Kuyt offers a lot from his position and of the two sides I’d argue it’s the left where we most need improvement in quality.
Clearly Benitez doesn’t see Babel as the long-term option for the left side, with the arrival of Albert Riera last summer proving that. I imagined that would signal an opportunity for Babel to play in a more central role, something Rafa even talked about in pre-season. But it hasn’t happened at all. Even when we were crying out for a forward when Torres was injured and Keane had left. David N’gog is picked ahead of Babel through the middle instead.
I can’t see a future for Babel at Anfield, which is a shame, the question is how much of the Â£11m we paid would we get for the him now? I doubt we will make a profit.