I wished to join Arsenal ahead of Liverpool – but I don’t regret my decision despite broken promises

Ryan Babel has revealed the reasons why his career at Liverpool may not have lived up to the hype at first.

I wished to join Arsenal ahead of Liverpool - but I don't regret my decision despite broken promises

Ryan Babel attends the White Mountaineering Menswear Fall/Winter 2024-2025 show as part of Paris Fashion Week

Although Ryan Babel acknowledges that his time at Liverpool wasn’t perfect, he doesn’t regret choosing to play for the Reds.

In the summer of 2007, the Netherlands international joined Anfield for £11.5 million from Ajax, and he ended up playing 146 games in his three and a half seasons there. But during his time on Merseyside, his game time steadily dropped, so only 65 of those came from the beginning.

Babel, who was only 20 when he moved to Liverpool, acknowledges that his time there was unsatisfactory. He disclosed his mental struggles following the move, seemingly alluding to unfulfilled promises from the club.

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He told the Athletic, “It was a little disappointing for myself because when I eventually chose Liverpool.” They assured me they would truly work with me and that I would receive time.

However, I was left to fend for myself from the start, which was really difficult.

“At twenty years old, I was still living at my parents’ house in Holland, so it was my first time living abroad and living alone. I therefore had to deal with a lot of new challenges all at once. That made things really challenging.

There were moments when I felt anxious, unhappy, or like I wasn’t entirely myself. I believe that we are in a time where it is important to help a player who is in danger. I was raised in a culture that did not accept weakness. Some people would have written you off.

Despite these difficulties, Babel doesn’t truly regret moving to Liverpool, even though at the time he would have preferred to join Arsenal.

He exclusively spoke with Ladbrokes Fanzone, saying, “The rumors surrounding myself and Arsenal were exactly that; just rumours.” “Unfortunately, we never did communicate with the club directly, even though as an Arsenal fan, that is what I would have preferred.

However, I’ve always been the type of person to base decisions on feelings of desire, and Liverpool gave me the impression that they genuinely wanted me. They gave me a sense of importance, which is why I decided to sign with the club; I have no regrets about that choice.

Living alone in a foreign nation with a distinct culture required a lot of adjustment. But I felt up to the challenge, and it was an incredibly exciting time.

“I gained a winning mentality and a certain attitude at Liverpool; I also learned a lot about myself off the field. I also understood what it took to win games at a major club, which is something I carried with me throughout my career.

“I never thought that joining that team would be too much for me. All I had to do was show everyone that the decision was wise.

You know, I signed for £11.5 million, which at the time seemed like a lot of money. People would say that’s petty now, but at the time it meant I had to work hard to fit in and gain the respect of my teammates as soon as possible.

“It wasn’t easy, but in the end I thought I had enough respect to be a part of many significant events with that team.”

“You know, it wasn’t easy coming into that Liverpool team at the time,” he said. Rafa Benitez, the coach, wasn’t kind to us.

I was used to playing 4-3-3, so I had to adjust to a new formation and style. Playing 4-4-2 required me to defend much more than I was used to doing with Ajax.

“I was told at Ajax that I wasn’t really needed defensively; they just really wanted me up front. However, after moving to Liverpool, I had to track back all the time, and they instilled in me the responsibility of supporting my defenders.

“I had to pick up all of that knowledge quickly, and even though there were many highs and lows, I was still able to play for the club for nearly four years.”

Even though my contributions to the team may not have had the same impact as those of, say, Steven Gerrard or Fernando Torres, I still maintain positive relationships with many members of the team and I have never felt like they have forgotten about me. I am a devoted fan of Liverpool and want to see them succeed.

But because they respect me so much, I value the people in and around that club so much. They don’t have to respect me, but they do, you know. I consider this to be a special club, and I’m honored to be a part of the Legends squad these days.

Babel acknowledges that some people may reflect on his career and feel he didn’t reach his full potential in his early years. He feels, though, that he was not given the direction he required to perform to the best of his abilities.

In retrospect, he told the Athletic, “It was a rocky journey, a lot of ups and downs, a career with many emotions.” There are undoubtedly most people who would say, “Oh, Ryan maybe didn’t fulfil his potential,” in relation to how I was presented to the world, my talent, and my potential. It’s the simplest decision to make.

But I believe that some players require a different strategy and a particular kind of direction. Additionally, I believe that at one point, I needed a specific kind of direction in order to get the most out of me, and I didn’t get it.

That might impact a player’s professional trajectory. On mine, it did.

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