As Ryan Babel completes his move to Turkish side Kasimpasa, Vincent Ralph asks if he was ever that good in the first place?
The news that Ryan Babel has officially joined Turkish side Kasimpasa may pass a lot of football fans by. He was after all a player who flattered to deceive for long periods of his time at Liverpool, and has slipped progressively closer to the edge of the radar since he left.
Upon leaving Anfield he signed for German side TSG Hoffenheim, but bought out the last three years of his contract after just 18 months at the club. While a return to boyhood side Ajax lasted only a year.
In short, his journey on the footballing map is representative of a player nearing the end of his career – not in the clubs for which he has played, but the time in which he has stayed.
And yet he is still only 26!
Just 18 months here and 12 months there speak of a player who can’t settle, for whom the expectation of a renaissance – which was surely the case on his return to Ajax – has been replaced by a series of anti-climaxes.
It would be easy to say Babel was a flop at Liverpool. But perhaps the more honest assessment is that he has been a flop everywhere.
Featuring for Holland at every level from Under-17 to the senior side, a look at his statistics shows a young player who excelled…up to a point.
Three goals in six games for the Under-17s, two in six for the Under-19s, two in four for the Under-20s, two in five for the Under-21s and the same record for the Under-23s, all speak of a forward who was one of the best of his generation. Until that generation grew up.
Babel never kicked-on. He remained at a certain level for both club and country, sporadically showing what might have been but unable or unwilling to be consistent.
That he will be remembered by Liverpool fans more for his tweets than his goals says it all.
And while a move to Turkey may inspire him, it could just as easily be the latest destination for a man who hasn’t been forgotten so much as the fact that he rarely delivered anything worth remembering.
image: © vincentteeuwen