''I dont think people in England ever saw the best of me. For a player to really be at his best you have to give him a certain confidence, but I did not feel appreciated by some people at Liverpool. Rafa Benitez promised me a certain development, but very quickly he took away that promise and it was a totally different situation. I dont think I ever really played more than three games in a row. Ryan Babel, 2012.
Maybe the Dutchman has a point. Perhaps it was Benitez who stunted his development at Anfield, and it is solely the Spaniards reason why he never lived up to his £11.5 million price tag when he was signed in the summer of 2007. Then again, judging by where he currently picks up a wage, one might just draw their own conclusions as to why Babel could never hold down a starting place at Anfield.
At just 27 years of age, his career is fast sinking without a trace, playing for Kasimpasa in the Turkish Super Lig. In 2007, the boy had the world at his feet, with the likes of Arsenal, Barcelona and Real Madrid all showing an interest in the Ajax starlet. That is why it appeared to be something of a coup for the Liverpudlian club to have beaten off the competition to land his signature.
With tricky feet, lightning pace and adept mobility, Babel was always a useful asset, but could never impose himself on an organised an efficient Liverpool side. There were certainly highlights for the Dutch winger, including a memorable winner against vociferous rivals Manchester United in September 2008, but they were few and far between.
He may have played 146 times for the club, and gained a bit of cult status with the supporters for his antics on social networking sites, but when Babel is a little older and perhaps a little wiser, he will realise that he completely wasted the formative years of his career as a bit-part player in England. Had he been using those years wisely, he may be playing for a club of a slightly higher calibre as he enters the peak of his career.
Recent Journalism & New Media graduate. Insatiable thirst for all things football, and hopes to break into the field of sports journalism in the near future.
Have made a significantly insignificant playing career out of receiving several slaps around the head for not passing the ball.