Ryan Babel has opened up about Liverpool’s summer signings and former team-mate Steven Gerrard’s decision to manage Al-Ettifaq.
Babel believes Liverpool are in a promising position due to their summer transfer activity to date, despite uncertainty over what the midfield will look like at the start of the Premier League season.
The Reds started the summer with a bang, announcing Brighton’s World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister as their new number 10. Dominik Szoboszlai quickly followed him through the entrance and took the number 8 while Jurgen Klopp seemingly sorted out his attacking midfield woes for a reported £95m.
Both joined their new team-mates ahead of pre-season but tougher work will be needed on the recruiting front following offers from Saudi Arabia for veteran bosses Fabinho and Jordan Henderson. With less than three weeks to go before the Premier League opener at Stamford Bridge, it remains to be seen who will field at center park.
The latest on the two possible departures is that Sky understands Henderson has now bid farewell to Merseyside before joining Al Ettifaq for £12m, while Fabinho’s planned £40m transfer to Al Ittihad has been delayed and he is expected to return to training on Wednesday. Confidence remains that a deal to sell the Brazilian can be reached.
“They’re very promising with the signings,” Babel told Talksport Breakfast on Tuesday, despite the ongoing drama at his former team.
“At the same time, we know how much and how Jurgen Klopp wants to play overall, it’s always a question of whether the players can adapt to the style of play.
“They played a friendly game [on Monday], I didn’t see it but I got the notifications on my phone and they conceded a few goals in the last part of the game – 4-4.
“I think there’s still work to do but I’m a Liverpool fan and I have high hopes. I trust Jurgen Klopp. I know he knows last season wasn’t good enough of course so they really need to do better this season.”
Much of the disruption on Merseyside this summer has been due to Saudi interest and on Henderson’s part it may stem from new Al Ettifaq manager and former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s desire to reunite with the Reds man.
“Of course, at first it’s surprising that he went there to lead,” says Babel. “Overall, if you look at English managers in particular, they tend to stay in England, but at the same time I feel like we’re entering a new wave of new managers, don’t we? Young coaches, former players.
“Look, at the end of the day, we don’t know if Steven Gerrard had many options at the moment, but I feel like a manager if you’re out of the picture for too long, maybe the door is slowly closing for you on that kind of opportunity. Maybe it was one of those things where he thought, ‘Hey, I want to keep busy, I’m still young, this is the opportunity I have right now, so let’s take it’.”