Stranger things have happened!
Yes, like my fellow Liverpool fans, I was left very frustrated indeed by Ryan Babel’s abject display out on the left wing against Tottenham, and yes, I like countless others, was left wondering if the Dutchman has indeed been a big mistake of a signing. However there is a solution.
Who would have thought when Dirk Kuyt was first purchased by Rafa Benitez as a no nonsense no frills old fashioned striker that he would in fact become far more useful to the cause as a right winger? Well not me that’s for sure. Now the gaffer has to work that same magic and re-invent our misfiring Dutch winger in a do or die attempt to see if he is indeed capable of becoming an important cog in the Anfield machine.
Yes Babel has been on occasion employed as an out and out striker but not really been given enough chance to really grow into the role. Remember when Arsene Wenger purchased Thierry Henry he too was more well known for playing out on the flank and with a bit of work he made the position of striker his own and never looked back.
True Thierry has attributes and abilities that right now Ryan can only dream about but he is still only 22, which was the same age at which Wenger brought in the French international to north London. Our number 19 has pace, bags of it but often tries one trick to many and can lose the ball far too frequently and maybe that’s because he gets the ball to often and is therefore continuously looking to do something with it rather than keeping possession, now if he was simply an out and out striker he would in theory receive the ball far more often when in the danger area.
Obviously the former Ajax man is not lethal in front of goal but that is a talent that can be honed in time. Think again of Henry, before he arrived at Arsenal his scoring rate was poor, 31 goals in 161 games to be precise. This is simply because scoring goals was not his game plan but once it became his main task then he didn’t look back.
So could Babel work alongside Torres? Well it would be tricky but by no means impossible. He is after all pretty decent in the air and stands at six feet so could be used more ably as a player who can head down and create for El Nino and of course he has the pace and power to scare defenders. Obviously it’s not a natural partnership but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t work.
Such a move would also allow Yossi or Albert to play out left. Personally I would prefer Benayoun in this role but that’s another matter. There are some players who offer little and are a genuine headache and should be offloaded but then there are those players who just so often show glimpses of quality that a club can try to build up and nourish, Ryan is one well worth sticking with.