Liverpool to Fulham: Ryan Babel's journey back to the Premier League
Ryan Babel has signed with Fulham until the end of the season
Last Updated: 20/01/19 7:03am
Ryan Babel is back in the Premier League after eight years away, but where has he been and is he the answer for Fulham? We take a look at the former Liverpool winger.
Babel spent three and a half years at Anfield between 2007 and 2011, making 146 appearances and scoring 22 times across all competitions, and it has been quite the journey for the winger since then.
He will now grace the pitches of the Premier League once again after signing for Fulham, and could make his debut live on Sky Sports this weekend against Tottenham.
So where has been, how has he done and what will he bring to the west London club? We take a look...
Hoffenheim and Ajax
Babel left Liverpool in January 2011, signing for German side Hoffenheim for a reported fee of £8m. He made his debut on January 26 - the day after he signed - in a DFB Cup game against Energie Cottbus.
His first Bundesliga game was against Schalke three days later and although he was a regular starter in his first half a season at the German club, he only scored and assisted once in 15 league games.
Babel continued to feature regularly in the 2011/12 campaign, starting in 28 of the 32 Bundesliga games he was included in, and began well with four goals in his first six games. However, he did not register another goal for the remainder of the year in any competition, and had his contract terminated on 31 August 2012.
Hoffenheim and Ajax stats
|Time at the club||Jan '11 to Aug '12||Aug '12 to July '13|
Next was a return to Ajax, where he came through the youth system and made his professional debut. Another good start followed with two goals and three assists in his first six games for the Eredivise side, but injuries soon blighted his season.
He missed nine games with a shoulder injury between November and December, made one Eredivisie appearance, and then faced a further eleven games on the sidelines with knee issues. He returned in March, scoring in his first two fixtures, although he failed to find the net in the final five games of the season, but did assist twice against Willem II.
But he did receive a winners medal as Ajax secured their third successive Eredivisie title in the 2012/13 season.
Kasimpasa, Al Ain and Deportivo
Babel moved on again after his second spell with Ajax, joining Turkish Super Lig side Kasimpasa for two seasons. He played 29 games in each, assisting in seven of his first nine games in the 2013/14 season. He went on a similar run in the 2014/15 campaign, assisting in four of his opening five games. He mostly kept himself fit while in Turkey, scoring 14 league goals across the two years.
Another change of scene followed in 2015 and this time he went outside of Europe, joining United Arab Emirates side Al Ain, although it was far from a happy stay. He made just eight appearances, playing 367 minutes and never completing a full game.
Kasimpasa, Al Ain and Deportivo stats
|Time at the club||Aug '13 to July '15||July '15 to July '16||Sept '16 to Dec '16|
He faced a battle with the club's hierarchy over issues of discipline and his use of social media. According to reports in the Netherlands at the time, he was demoted to the reserves for the remainder with his time at the club, before leaving for Spain in 2016.
He only spent three-and-a-half months with Deportivo La Coruna, arriving in September as back-up for the injured Joselu. He made 12 appearances with five goals in all competitions, but decided not to renew his contract at the end of the year.
Besiktas and the Netherlands
Perhaps his most successful spell so far has come at Besiktas. He returned to Turkey in January 2017 and soon became a fan favourite, starting in all 18 games in the remainder of the season, scoring five goals with four assists as Besiktas won the Super Lig for a second consecutive year.
He also helped the club to the Europa League quarter-finals, netting twice in the second leg of the last-16 tie with Olympiacos and the first leg of the quarter-final against Lyon, which Besitkas eventually lost on penalties.
Another busy season followed in 2017/18, missing just two league games through suspension with 13 goals and six assists in 32 matches. Besiktas also had more success in Europe, this time reaching the last-16 stage in the Champions League where they were knocked out by Bayern Munich. Babel scored in his first two appearances in the competition.
|Time at the club||Jan '17 to Jan '19|
Of course, before his move to Fulham, there was half a season to play in Turkey, although he has once again struggled with injury. He has already missed nine games with two separate issues, although did score four goals in the 12 Super Lig games in which he did feature.
His strong form with Besiktas also reignited his Netherlands career. He was recalled by Dick Advocaat in October 2017 after nearly six years in the international wilderness and while he could not fire the Dutch to the World Cup, he has scored three goals in his last 14 months back in the national side.
Can he help Fulham?
Fulham are in desperate need of goals to pull them out of a dogged relegation battle, where they currently in 19th and five points from safety. They have scored just 20 goals this season, the fourth lowest in the Premier League.
Although Babel has struggled for consistency at many of his clubs, Besiktas proved that there is still a player in there that Marco van Basten once lauded as having "the potential to be the next Thierry Henry".
As is well documented, Fulham spent plenty of money in the summer and they do have talent in their squad, with Jean Michel Seri and Andre Schurrle players with real quality that can support the Dutchman in midfield. Ryan Sessegnon, who can play on the left wing, is also still emerging at 18-years-old and could learn from Babel.
After a mostly disappointing spell at Liverpool all those years ago, he will have a point to prove in the Premier League - now older and wiser - and will be looking for an instant impact against Tottenham live on Sky Sports on Sunday.