Tag Archives: Liverpool

Liverpool to Go Dutch?

In the last few days Liverpool FC have parted company with assistant manager Colin Pascoe and first team coach Mike Marsh. Since their departures many names have been touted as possible replacements for Pascoe and Marsh. Subsequently, fresh reports suggest Brendan Rodgers may go ‘Dutch’ in his recruitment of new back room staff  writes Darren Harrison.

'PSV ontvangt afwijzing van beoogde aanwinst; Liverpool wel in de race'

Both Rene Meulensteen and Boudewijn Zenden have been linked to replace Pascoe and Marsh in previous days. Furthermore, there is no surprise in Liverpool looking at two highly rated candidates to fill the voids left by Pascoe and Marsh. Meluensteen had previous success working part of a successful back room staff at Manchester United, his experience and expertise could be what the back room staff at Anfield lacked last season.

On the other hand, Zenden is part of a back room staff that was responsible for PSV Eindhoven success during last season Eredivise. Zenden, could be persuaded to return to England after previously working alongside Rafa Benitez during his short stint as Chelsea manager.

In addition to this, it does seem Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is looking to recruit potential staff who have been successful on and off the pitch, to organise and revitalise a Liverpool team that failed to live up to the expectations of the 2013-2014 season during last season.


Name-Darren Harrison

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Ryan Babel – The Forgotten Talent

“Thierry Henry is an idol for me, I used to watch him a lot on the TV.”

It may be crazy to think now but the player who uttered those words was once considered another Henry in waiting. This player seemingly had the world at his feet but for one reason or another in never clicked.

Ryan Babel was born on December 19 1986 in Amsterdam. Like many in the city he grew up with a passion for football. At a young age he joined his local youth side SV Diemen before moving on to represent Fortius Amsterdam.

In 1997 he tried out for Ajax and a place in their famous youth academy. However despite making it as far as the first selection round his initial attempt proved unsuccessful. Undeterred Babel came back the following year and this time made his mark.

Blessed with fast and explosive pace coupled with lashings of skill alongside plenty of strength and just enough aggressiveness, Babel soon made a name for himself within the Ajax set up. At 15 his talent had developed to such a level that the club organised one-on-one sessions with Marco van Bastan for him.

Van Basten himself had only just qualified as a coach and the club felt the two together would bring out the best in one another. Whatever Babel did in these get together’s the former Dutch maestro was clearly impressed.

“He has all the potential to become the next Henry, the pace, the movement, finishing, feel for the game – it’s all there.”

That wasn’t all Van Basten continued to enthuse about this potential Dutch prodigy, “If he keeps developing and improving there is no saying what he might achieve.”

While Van Basten would eventually move on Babel stayed put. Two months after his 17th birthday he made his debut in the Ajax first team against ADO Den Haag. The Godenzone ran out comfortable four-nil winners on the day.

A new talented generation of Dutch players was also emerging around this timeframe that included the likes of Robben, Van Persie, Sjnieder, Van Dar Vaart and Huntelaar. Babel although younger than the rest was considered by many in the Netherlands to be at the forefront of a new golden generation.

13 months after his Ajax debut, Babel was making his first appearance for the national team. He soon became the countries youngest goal scorer in 68 years with a strike against Romania.

By the time the u21 European championship rolled around in 2007, Babel was an old hand at this international lark having already played 14 times for the senior side. Nonetheless he did his job for the under 21’s inspiring them to victory in the competition.

It wasn’t long before clubs with money to burn started sniffing around this prodigious talent. Rumours abound that Premiership side Arsenal were all set to make an offer. Babel himself even spoke about how it would be an honour to play under Arséne Wenger.

However he was forced to backtrack slightly on those remarks when in fact it was fellow English club Liverpool who agreed a deal with Ajax to sign him. Babel was Merseyside bound, in a deal that would see him join the Reds for a substantial fee in and around £11.5m.

The 2007/08 season his first in England started well for Babel. Former Reds defender and well known TV pundit Mark Lawrenson immediately compared him to another former Anfield great in the shape of John Barnes. Kenny Daglish was also said to be a fan.

Babel’s transition into the English game appeared to be progressing smoothly. He even won the clubs young player of the year in his first season for the club.

However scratch the surface and you soon found that all was not as cosy as it seemed. Babel struggled to command a starting spot week in week out and found himself quite often sprung from the bench rather than playing from the first minute each week.

Also being played out wide rather than down the middle as he preferred contributed to a growing frustration, “Benitez knows I like to play up front and hopefully one day he will give me a chance to play there.”

Try as he might though Babel failed to nail down that starting spot and the times he was given a chance to impress in his favoured striking role he flattered to deceive. With game time becoming patchy his development also began to stagnate.

Dropped from the Dutch squad for a Euro 2008 qualifier for oversleeping for a second time and also being fined £10,000 by the FA for posting a picture of Referee Howard Webb in a Man United jersey on his twitter page painted Babel in an unfavourable public light.

A perception emerged that he was someone who didn’t really care enough about his profession and was more interested in creating Rap music (He had a Dutch number one hit) and goofing off. All of this though could not have been further from the truth as Babel was extremely dedicated professional who always gave his all.

With the departure of Benitez from Liverpool, Babel was presented with another chance to get his career back on track. However the chance went a begging as he slipped further down the Reds pecking order. It even reached a point where David N’Gog was chosen in front of him.

Despite his troubles in England Babel continued to be called up to the Dutch squad, but injuries stunted his impact. In January 2011, after four hit and miss years on Merseyside, it came time for Babel to move on.

His career had taken a turn down a dark alley and he needed fresh impetus to get it back on the right course. The place he hoped he would find that spark was with Bundesliga side Hoffenheim. Who he joined for €8m.

Even though things may not have worked out as planned for him at Liverpool he continued to retain a fondness for the city and the clubs fans. He even continues to retain a house there. On leaving however he couldn’t resist a final parting shot a former manager Benitez.

“Rafa Benitez promised me a certain development, but very quickly he took away that promise and it was a totally different situation.” “I don’t think I ever played more than three times in a row.”

If Germany was to be the land of new opportunities for Babel, it proved a massive let down. Over a stop start year and a half Babel failed to make the desired impact. Playing 51 times scoring only six and in August 2012 he and the club agreed to terminate the rest of his contract.

By now his international career had also disintegrated into obscurity. He was part of the Dutch squad for the 2010 World Cup, but failed to make a single appearance as the Netherlands made it all the way to the final.

It had been an alarming decline for Babel who was still only in his mid-twenties at this stage. The World Cup in South Africa should have been his introduction to the world stage, yet he spent it all sitting on a bench.

In 2012 he returned home to Ajax signing a one year deal. Some saw the move as a step back but not Babel who was just delighted to be home, “Some people will see my 1 year deal with Ajax as a step back, but that’s not how I see it. This is a step in the right direction for me after a difficult period.”

Yet again though Babel’s fresh start proved a false dawn. He only managed nine starts in the league during his one season back. Making nowhere near the impact he hoped. He cited his wish to leave the younger generation come through as a reason for leaving.

Although his substantial wages must surely also have been a factor. The question of where to next for this mercurial talent quickly arose, England again, Italy, France maybe. In the end he plumped for the footballing outpost that is Turkey.

Now when we think of the Turkish league three clubs usually spring to mind, Galatasaray, Fenerbache and Besiktas. Babel joined neither of the three but instead signed for the unheralded Kasımpaşa. A team located in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul.

Still only 28 years of age Ryan Babel should be entering the peak of his powers, instead he is playing in the wilderness that is the Turkish Super Lig. There is still time for him to turn it all around and realise a fraction of his talent that he undeniably has. That time however shrinks considerably with each passing day.

Potential can only get you so far and nobody knows that better than Ryan Babel.

I don’t think I’ve shown my full potential yet, we can’t all be Lionel Messi even if we want to – RYAN BABEL


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Dirk Kuyt – A league of his own

When Dirk Kuyt burst onto the scene at Feyenoord, becoming the clubs top scorer in three consecutive seasons, many dubbed him to be Holland’s next prolific goal scorer, and as a potential replacement for Ruud Van Nistelrooy, so at first glance, his goal scoring record of 24 goals in 104 caps suggests that his international career was a disappointment. However, what Dirk Kuyt contributed to the Oranje over 10 years is worth so much more than just goals, and his three last major tournaments for the Dutch side epitomised this writes Fin Crebolder.

During the build up to the 2010 World Cup, there were calls for Dirk Kuyt to be replaced by the more skillfull and pacey winger Eljero Elia. Even after the first game, where Kuyt got himself a goal, calls still persisted for Elia to get the nod. However, as the tournament went on, despite the likes of Sneijder and Robben gaining plaudits, Kuyt was equally as crucial in the Oranje reaching the final. Whilst Robben was bombarding forward on the opposite wing, Kuyt was tirelessly tracking back in every match. In the build up to the quarter final against Brazil, many people pinpointed Maicon, the right back for Brazil, as one of their danger men. He had already scored at the tournament, and was proving to be a huge attacking threat for Brazil in every game. However, throughout the quarter final, Kuyt tracked Maicon and prevented him from making any sort of impact. This performance drew praise from Dutch legend, Johan Cruyff;

“Not only did he keep Maicon out of the game, he also set up the winner. Someone like that is worth his weight in gold.”

In the semi-final against Uruguay, after setting up Robben with a fantastic cross for the Bayern Munich winger to make it 3-1, he also made a crucial last ditch block in stoppage time with the scores at 3-2 to secure The Netherlands passage to their third World Cup Final. Despite the fact that they lost the final, Kuyt had shown fantastic work-ethic throughout to help get them there.

Going into Euro 2012, The Netherlands were one of the pre-tournament favourites to lift the trophy. Due to the strong depth of the squad, some star players were set to miss out on the starting line-up. These players were Huntelaar, Van der Vaart and Kuyt, who lost their places to Van Persie, De Jong and Afellay respectively. After the first game, a 1-0 loss to Denmark, Van der Vaart and Huntelaar started to kick up a fuss about not starting. This set the tone for the rest of the Oranje’s short tournament, as team morale got worse on and off the pitch. However, among the disharmony in the Dutch Camp, Dirk Kuyt did not complain once about being dropped from the team, even after being an undisputed starter during the qualifying campaign. Instead, he put his personal issues to one side and tried, along with Wesley Sneijder, to keep the morale in the camp high, for the good of the team, and this is probably a large factor as to why, when Van Gaal took over, he was made vice-captain, with Sneijder as captain. Despite the fact that he was unable to contribute on the pitch during this tournament, Kuyt displayed admirable selflessness that not many Dutch players have been known for showing.

Many people had forgotten about Dirk Kuyt going into the 2014 World Cup, due to his age and Van Gaal’s preference to play the younger players. However, after it was revealed that The Netherlands would play 5-3-2 at the World Cup, reports emerged that Dirk Kuyt had started training in the first XI as a wing back, and he even earned the nickname “Dirk Alba” from his teammates. After not playing a part in the first two games, Kuyt was deployed in the left wing-back against Chile. It was the first time in his career that he played in this position, but if you were watching him play for the first time, you would’ve thought that it was his natural position. He looked composed, organised and assured in the role, and compensated for his lack of pace with excellent positioning time and time again. In his 100th cap, the last 16 clash against Mexico, he started off at right wing back, before moving over to left wing back for the second half, and when the team were 1-0 down with 10 minutes left, Van Gaal put Kuyt up front to provide an aerial threat. This worked, as Kuyt won the corner which resulted in Sneijder’s last ditch equaliser. Kuyt retained his role as a wingback in the games against Costa Rica and Argentina, rarely putting a foot wrong, and in both penalty shoot-outs, he calmly slotted his away. After going into the World Cup as an almost forgotten man, he emerged as one of the Oranje’s key players, showing excellent willingness and versatility to help the young side reach the Semi-Finals.

Whilst many Dutch players have been accused of putting themselves ahead of the team, Kuyt has always put the interests of the team ahead of his own, whether that is by trying to keep team morale up even after being, somewhat unfairly, dropped, or sacrificing his attacking qualities in order to help a young teams defensive problems. So no, he won’t be mentioned alongside the likes of Cruyff, Van Basten and Bergkamp when people are discussing Dutch greats, but whilst he may not possess the technique, skill or flair of these players, the simple fact is, there never has been, and in my opinion, never will be again, a Dutchman that is so hard-working, selfless and versatile, and for that reason, Dirk Kuyt is in a league of his own.


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Liverpool winger is off to Utrecht

After losing Jens Toornstra today to Feyenoord, FC Utrecht coach Rob Alflen is all set to add Liverpool’s Swedish winger Kristoffer Peterson to his attacking options on a season long loan deal writes Will Burns.

The 19-year-old arrived at Liverpool from Swedish side, Savedalens IF in January 2011 and has been a main fixture in the side’s Under-18 academy side until he spent a month period on loan at Tranmere Rovers last season.

The Swedish starlet is an exciting player who can play on the left or right wing, and also up front and he featured heavily in Liverpool’s pre-season tour which he impressed and scored goals in games against Brondby and Preston North End.

Speaking about the young Swede, Utrecht coach Alflen talking to Algemeen Dagblad said: “We have been watching him and I’ve seen him work as a forward and on the flanks. He is threatening, has power and he is definitely a good for our team.”

Peterson has represented his country at various youth levels and is a regular in starter in the Under-21 team and a deal with Utrecht should be announced imminently as the player is understood to be undertaking a medical this afternoon.


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Liverpool & Spurs target set for Lille loan

Belgian wonderkid Zakaria Bakkali’s future is a hotly contested one at the moment. Talks of an imminent move to Atletico Madrid are being followed up with reports of a loan move to Lille once the move to the Spanish capital is complete.


Lille’s sporting director, Luc Devroe, invited the teenage sensation to watch the game between Ostende and Anderlecht last weeked. Devroe then confirmed that Bakkali is set to move to Lille a soon as his move to Atletico Madrid is finalised.

The teenager, currently a member of PSV Eindhoven’s squad, is believed to be in Madrid to discuss terms with the La Liga champions and Champions League finalists with a moving looking very likely, although personal terms are the only thing left to be agreed upon.

Bakkali is currently the youngest member of the Belgian national team squad and beame the youngest ever player to score a hat-trick in the Eredivisie, when he did so against NEC Nijmegen last season.

The Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur target is currently training with PSV’s second squad when available despite a deal being in place that will take him to the Rojiblancos in Spain.


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Bakkali offer accepted but Liverpool still in the hunt

UPDATED 21st July 2014 – 19:10

PSV Eindhoven contract rebel Zakaria Bakkali is wishing to move to the Premier League with Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers in an €8m deal. Although, reports tonight coming out of Holland suggest that PSV have agreed a fee with Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt.

The young highly-rated Belgian winger has rejected PSV’s approaches with a new five-year contract due to the Eindhoven club unable to guarantee the 18-year-old first team football. Even though PSV technical director Martin Brands and head coach Philip Cocu highly-rate Bakkali, the emergence of Memphis Depay and Luciano Narsingh have made sure that the youngster is sitting on the bench.

By rejecting PSV’s offers, the club has saw this as a slap in the face and are looking to cash in on Bakkal, less than week after sending the player to train with the Jong PSV squad. At only €8m, Bakkali could prove to be a real snip for Liverpool, but he may well be spending time on the sidelines at Anfield also. England international Raheem Sterling has cemented his role on the right-wing after a tremendous season last campaign at only 19 years old and has no signs of letting up.

Bakkali himself burst on the season last year with a great start in a 5-0 win against NEC Nijmegen on 11th August 2013. At 17 years and 196 days, he became the youngest player in Eredivisie history to score a hat-trick.

Even with his great feats in the Eredivisie last season, PSV are set to ditch him due to his attitude regarding his future. Although he shows great ambitions, the youngster could find himself kicking up a storm in Liverpool within a few months. This is something that Brendan Rodgers will have to take into hand before signing the prospect to a deal.

Indeed a deal with Eintracht Frankfurt has been agreed, however, it is understood that Bakkali is holding off for a better offer. Could that be the mighty Reds?


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Miracle if Eriksen does not move to England next week

Dutch journalist Jaap de Groot, whom writes for De Telegraaf, has stated that it will be a ‘miracle’ if Ajax’s Christian Eriksen does not move to an English Premier League club this coming week.

Now the transfer window is closing and the clubs across Europe start to panic buy, De Groot assumes that Eriksen will leave Ajax this coming week: “The signs are showing now that a miracle must happen if the Dane not move to England over the next week. Perhaps to Liverpool, but another club could steal in to take him.”

Over the summer, Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool have been strongly linked to the Danish international but it is understood that Tottenham Hotspur have also been involved in talks with Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars over a transfer.

It is no secret that Manchester United is also in the hunt for a central midfielder. David Moyes has asked his old club Everton to allow Belgian international Marouane Fellani move to Old Trafford after already rejecting a bid from Moyes. The Toffees chairman Bill Kenwright rejected the joint bid for Fellani and Leighton Baines earlier this week, so Moyes may have look elsewhere. Anyone who has watched Eriksen in his time at Ajax would agree that the Dane would fit right in behind Robin van Persie.

However only yesterday, it was reported in Italy that Serie A giants AC Milan have joined the race for Eriksen after the player turned down a move to Germany with Bayer Leverkusen this past week.

Milan have turned to the Ajax playmaker after admitting defeat in their pursuit of CSKA Moscow’s Japanese playmaker Keisuke Honda, while AS Roma are also thought to be contemplating a bid if they lose Argentine midfielder Erik Lamela to Tottenham.

According to MilanNews.it, Italy, Spain and England remain the only likely destinations for the Dane, who has ruled out moves to Germany and Russia, despite strong interest from Leverkusen and Zenit St Petersburg. The website reports that Eriksen is open to a move to Italy after spending his recent summer holidays in Venice.

As previously stated, Eriksen reportedly wants Champions League football, a demand that would appear to rule out a move to Spurs and Liverpool.

That would appear to leave Manchester United or Milan in pole position for Eriksen providing the Italians are able to progress to the competition’s group stages this Wednesday night after drawing 1-1 with PSV in the first leg of their qualifying match last Tuesday.

Milan’s move for Honda has been one of the most protracted sagas of the off-season, but both sides now appear to have reached an impasse.

Juventus, who have automatically qualified for the Champions League group stages, were also previously credited with a move for Eriksen but AC Milan could beat their Serie A rivals to the 21-year-old’s signature as soon as next Wednesday when the second leg of their play-off against PSV takes place at the San Siro.

Wherever his destination, his assists, key passes, set-piece plays and powerful shooting will add something special to any team across the globe but the defending Eredivisie champions Ajax will miss him terribly. The Dane has already notched two goals in four games this campaign, even though the Amsterdammers have dropped points to currently sit fourth in the division.


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