Friday, April 24, 2009

Babel frustrated over lack of opportunities

RYAN BABEL admits he is facing a make-or-break season at Liverpool – provided he survives Rafael Benitez’s summer squad cull.

Babel has struggled to realise the potential that prompted the Anfield manager to splash out £11.5m to bring him from Ajax almost two years ago.

Only two players had cost more in the club’s history at the time, but the Holland international has failed to reproduce the form that saw him so highly rated during the formative stages of his career.

Babel has made only 21 Premier League starts in two seasons and seen Albert Riera arrive in September and become first choice on the left flank.

The Dutchman, who carved his reputation as a centre forward, has previously expressed displeasure at his treatment by Benitez.

The manager may opt to offload the underachieving 22-year-old during his expected summer squad reshuffle.

Babel still has three years remaining on his contract but accepts he

can no longer have any excuses for failing to deliver.

"In December I’ll be 23 and when you’ve reached that age, then in my eyes you aren’t a potential talent anymore," said the forward.

"Next season age isn’t an excuse any more and that’s something trainers use too often, saying ‘you’re young and you have the time’.

"My goal this season was to progress to a higher level and be in the starting line-up. But they brought in another left forward in the summer and he’s been playing regularly.

"Benitez isn’t rotating as much as he did before and he’s selecting a settled team. But I have patience, I work hard for myself and I have to show him I’ve earned the right to be picked."

Babel has started in just six of his 24 Premier League appearances this season and three of 10 in the Champions League, netting three goals in that time.

But he insists there are no regrets over moving to Liverpool, and added: "What I have learned in a year-and-a-half at Liverpool would have probably taken four at Ajax.

"Of course there are times when it isn’t going as well as I anticipated, but I see that as a personal test for myself, and it can only make me stronger.

"It’s hard when you haven’t played for three or four games, you only reach your level by playing weekly.

"It’s a bit frustrating when I hear commentators saying ‘Babel had a chance and didn’t take it,’ but on the other hand I went abroad a year earlier than planned so I’m still ahead in my schedule."

Despite not always seeing eye-to-eye with Benitez, Babel is also happy the Spaniard recently committed his long-term future to the club.

"I’m pleased he’s staying in spite of my current role, as there is always a chance that a new trainer says on the first day that he doesn’t believe in you," said the Dutchman.

"Under Benitez I know where I stand and that gives me a certain security. In the period when I felt a bit unsure I spoke to him. He was open and told me what parts of my game that I had to improve. Since then I have known what I have to do."

No comments :

Post a Comment