Football News

Ryan Babel: Why Ajax just signed the ex-Liverpool striker for the third time

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 11:25, 13 January 2020

Ajax completed the loan signing of Galatasaray forward Ryan Babel over the weekend.

The 33-year-old Dutch international penned a six-month contract at the club where he began his professional career.

Five key things to know about the Ryan Babel to Ajax transfer…

  • Ryan Babel has joined boyhood club Ajax on a six-month loan from Turkish giants Galatasaray.
  • He joined the Istanbul-based club last summer after spending six months at Fulham.
  • This Babel’s second return to Amsterdam after initially leaving in 2007, before returning in 2012.
  • To date, he’s made 133 appearances for Ajax in all competitions, registering 29 goals.
  • He’s expected to provide competition for David Neres and Quincy Promes significantly improving the club’ squad depth.

Babel, who previously enjoyed four seasons at Liverpool, initially joined Galatasaray last summer after playing for Fulham. He would go on to make 20 appearances in all competitions, registering five goals, but there was a sense it was never clicking for him at Turkey’s most successful team.

With Babel now heavily part of the Dutch national team, and with a Euro 2020 squad place at stake, moving closer to manager Ronald Koeman’s glare seemed logical. It also helped that Ajax coach Erik ten Hag wanted Babel to make a second return to the Amsterdam giants.

Having come through the club’s esteemed academy, Babel made 73 league appearances (2004-07) before leaving for England, he’d return in 2013 for a single season under Frank de Boer, which saw him win a second Eredivisie title.

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“Ajax friends, I’m back once again,” Babel said.

“I’m happy to be here, looking forward to wearing the shirt again, for the third time.

“Let’s have some great moments together again, and thank you for your support.”

Why Babel?

Ajax struggled after losing both wingers David Neres and Quincy Promes to respective injuries towards the end of 2019.

They saw their championship lead reduced from six points to none before going back up to three points ahead of the league’s resumption this weekend.

Zakaria Labyad, who stepped up in their absence, is now firmly in the physio room, leaving boss Ten Hag demanding ample cover on the flanks which Babel certainly provides.

He’s not expected to march into Ajax’s starting line-up as both Neres and Promes are available for selection, but if they were to endure a similar crisis on the wings then Ten Hag can be more confident a slump – such as that which they previously experienced – can be prevented.