Ryan Babel and Rafa Benitez.

Ryan Babel reveals how Rafa Benitez held back his Liverpool career

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When Ryan Babel, then just 20-years-old, signed for Liverpool in 2007 for around £12 million he was seen as one of the hottest prospects in European football.

Four years and 91 largely disappointing appearances later, he was touted as a big money flop at Anfield. A feeling that remains to this day on Merseyside.

Now 29 and plying his trade in Spain with Deportivo La Coruna, the Dutchman has opened up about just why things didn't work out as planned when he joined the club from Ajax. It's safe to say he isn't Rafa Benitez's biggest fan.

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"I think I was badly coached" Babel said in an interview with AS. "Neither the coach nor the technical team gave me good advice.

"I was 20 when I arrived in the Premier League. When you are that age, people have to help you, talk to you.

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"When I arrived, no one helped me. I was alone. It's difficult for any young player. Not everyone is [Lionel] Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo."

With pace to burn and an eye for goal, Babel was expected to be an exciting addition to Liverpool's squad when Benitez chose to splash the cash.

SSC Napoli v Liverpool - UEFA Europa League

Clearly, that never happened, with injury and poor form contributing to a frustrating spell in England for everyone involved.

However, the Dutchman appears to put a lot of the blame onto Benitez's shoulders for what he sees as a lack of attention and care he received when making the transition to the English game just a few months outside his teens.


In fact, in a move that will annoy Liverpool fans even further, Babel went on to suggest that he'd have had far more success if he'd been nurtured by Sir Alex Ferguson.

"Even Ronaldo's first two years at Manchester were difficult," the forward explained. "But [Sir] Alex Ferguson helped him.

"He was on top of him, he was able to grow up and now he is one of the best players in the world.

Middlesbrough v Manchester United

"But had Ferguson not taken care of Ronaldo, he may not be the Ronaldo we know now.

"People talk about a new player as a fantastic talent, the new [Diego] Maradona... But before he can become the new Maradona, he needs advice and help. Young players need time to develop."

Those Liverpool fans who watched Babel flatter to deceive for almost four years will question the idea that a little bit more attention from coaches would have made him into a potential world-beater.

Liverpool's Dutch forward Ryan Babel rea

Nevertheless, there is something to be said for talented youngsters being handled in the right way.

Given the number of young stars who fulfilled their potential at Old Trafford during the Ferguson era, even the most ardent Liverpool fan would have to admit the Scot was one of the best at doing just that.

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Steven Gerrard
Premier League
Manchester United
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Ryan Babel

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