Liverpool forward Ryan Babel could be fit for the start of the season, although Liverpool may not get the benefit of a quicker-than-expected recovery. He tore ankle ligaments during training on Saturday, ruling him out of the Dutch Euro 2008 bid, but his national boss Marco van Basten says he should be fit before the end of July.
Van Basten said: “He needs five to seven weeks to recover,” He explained what happened: “He was on the other end of the field when he turned around. He told me that he heard something snap, and others heard it too. He went to a hospital and there it became clear he had torn a muscle.”
The flip side to this good news is that Holland’s coach for the Olympics in Beijing now has his eye on the 21-year-old, adding to Rafa Benítez’s worries about his squad for the start of the season. Lucas will almost certainly be in Beijing on duty for Brazil, with Javier Mascherano a likely call-up as an overage player for Argentina. Also in with a chance of a place in the Argentina squad are Sebastian Leto and Emiliano Insua.
The Dutch under-23 coach Foppe de Haan will look after the Olympic side, and he made it clear he’d be considering Babel for the trip: “If Ryan recovers, he’s a sure candidate for a place in the team. With his qualities, he could be a very important player or us. We must wait and see how long his convalescence will last.”
De Haan said he’d have preferred Babel to be in the senior side: “I find it a shame that Ryan has to miss the European Championship final stage. His absence is also a large blow to the national side. He could have been our secret weapon.”
Dirk Kuyt, Babel’s team-mate for club and country, also said Babel’s absence would be bad for the national side: “It is a terrible blow for Ryan, and a real shock for all of us.The feeling in the camp was that it was quite a bad injury. And it happened without any contact with anyone else, he went down in training as he was running.”
At first there were fears it was more than ligament damage: “He switched from left to right with the ball and his leg just buckled under him. There was a loud noise, we felt at first it might have been broken, everyone heard it. It is really sad for him and hopefully he will recover as quick as possible to be back at Liverpool next season from the start. I feel very sorry for what has happened to Ryan. He has trained really well and looked very good as the tournament approached.
“It is very disappointing for us, and obviously for him, that he is out. It is a big tournament, and he would have been very important for us and, of course, also at Liverpool. Hopefully he will be fit for the beginning of the season, but we will have to wait and see about that. All I can say is that I want him to be back as quick as possible. I have left a message on his phone wishing him well, he was clearly very upset about what had happened.”
What did Dirk say to Ryan? “I just told him how sorry I was that he was missing the European finals and to get himself back as quick as he could. He has shown how important he was for Liverpool, coming on so often as substitute and scoring really important goals. Maybe Holland would have used him in the same way. He did so well during the Champions League for us, it was obvious what he could give to a team.”
Meanwhile Liverpool’s bid to buy Italian left-back Andrea Dossena has moved a step closer with reports that the player is expected on Merseyside tomorrow for a medical and to discuss personal terms.
His current club Udinese awarded the player a new contract, lasting until 2012, just last October, and had asked £8m for his services. Liverpool were only offering £6m, but it now seems the two clubs have reached a compromise.