Ryan Babel believes that Liverpool hampered his progress due to the lack of support he received during his time at Anfield. Yet, the Dutchman claimed that even Cristiano Ronaldo would have struggled to emerge as one of the best players in the world without the advice Sir Alex Ferguson gave him during his early days at Manchester United.
Current Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez recruited a 20-year-old Babel from Ajax in the summer of 2007 – for around £11.5m – after he garnered a reputation as one of the next big thing to emerge from the Prolific Dutch football. Only four years previously United had done a similar gamble by bringing a 18-year-old Ronaldo from Sporting Portugal as a prospect for the future.
Yet, their ascendance in the Premier League was quite different. The Dutchman scored 22 goals in 142 appearances for Liverpool but in 2011 was sold to Hoffenheim, after failing to make the impact expected. Ronaldo, meanwhile, scored 118 goals in 219 appearances for United before joining Real Madrid in 2009 after winning the Ballon D'or in 2008.
Babel, 29, believes that he had the potential to become a major star like Ronaldo but failed to get the support needed to follow in the footsteps of the United legend.
"I think I was badly coached, neither the coach nor the coaching staff advised me well. I was 20 years old went I went to the Premier League. When you are 20, you need from other people, you need people to talk to you. But when I went over there, nobody helped me. I was alone, and that's difficult for any young player. Not everyone is Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Even Cristiano Ronaldo's first years at Manchester United were quite difficult," Babel pointed out during an interview with AS. "Everyone was asking what he was doing [on the pitch], or said that he was only playing the kind of football to have videos on Youtube and things like that... but Alex Ferguson helped him, he stayed right by him and allowed him to grow, and now he is one of the best players in the world. Maybe if Ferguson hadn't been so concerned about Ronaldo, then Ronaldo wouldn't be the player he is today."
Babel returned to Ajax following his spell at Hoffenheim before enjoying spells at Turkish outfit Kasımpaşa and Al Ain. The Dutchman is now trying to relaunch his career in La Liga after having joined Deportivo la Coruna as a free agent. The former Liverpool forward is aware that his career has not been as successful as the one he expected during his early days at Ajax. Yet, he is happy with his achievements, having admitted that he could have continued in the Premier League when he left Anfield for Hoffenheim.
"I suppose people lost interest in me when I left Liverpool; but it wasn't me who left, it was other people who left me. If people had continued to follow me, they would have seen my two good seasons in Turkey which caught the attention of Beşiktaş and Galatasaray. I also played in the United Arab Emirates, where games are very tough – there are no easy games there. What I mean is that I continued to play well during those years and reached personal goals which I am happy about. But I do understand that in the world of football, I was playing for sides who maybe are not very high profile," he said. "When I left Liverpool, I could have stayed in England but that would have meant joining clubs that didn´t play football - just a long-ball game."