Rafa has eye on £10m Babel

As the dust settled on Friday night on Craig Bellamy’s near-transfer to West Ham (it waited on Bellamy and the Reds agreeing a contract settlement) and Djibril Cissé’s actual transfer to West Ham, rumours started to gather pace as to what – or who – was next on Rafa’s agenda.

Yossi Benayoun was now said to have agreed personal terms with Liverpool after West Ham had allowed him to speak to the club – but the clubs are still to agree a fee. Liverpool’s top offer of £4m is still some way short of West Ham’s lowest demand of £6m.

Then over the weekend came news of a link between Liverpool and Ajax’s 20-year-old attacking player Ryan Babel. Liverpool gave up on Florent Malouda of Lyon when the French side leaked details of the interest and slapped a ridiculous price on him – Chelsea have now paid £13.5m for a player Liverpool had valued at around £8m. Babel can play on either flank but is also happy playing up front. Liverpool boss Rafa Benítez loves the idea of ‘possibilities’ in his squad, but would be looking at Babel’s abilities in wide positions first and foremost given his recent confirmation that he is on the lookout for ‘wingers’. Babel has scored 4 goals in 14 full international appearances for Holland, and also played a starring role for the under-21s in their recent UEFA championships success.

This link gathered more credibility today when the local press on Merseyside also ran the story, hinting at a fee of around £10m. The same newspaper also pointed out the actual sums involved in Liverpool’s transfer dealings this summer, suggesting that the club are still roughly at a break-even point when comparing incoming and outgoing fees. That would change should Liverpool buy a player like Babel.

Now Babel’s agent has confirmed the Liverpool interest. Speaking to Sportweek magazine Winne Haatrecht said: “I can say nothing about transfer fees, but I can confirm that Liverpool have made a bid for Ryan. Ryan himself hasn’t spoken with that club. Only when Ajax say that the clubs have an agreement can we speak, and phase two starts. But it’s not that far yet. We first have to wait to see if the clubs reach a deal or not.”

With Rafa’s quest to buy those ‘wingers’ there have also been rapidly growing rumours linking the Anfield side to Porto’s Ricardo Quaresma, and Liverpool are said to have still not given up on a move for Simao Sabrosa.

There is yet to be an official announcement on Craig Bellamy’s transfer having finally gone through. Bellamy believes Liverpool owe him a certain amount of money under the terms of his contract because he didn’t seek a move away from Anfield himself, but with a potential £75,000-per-week contract at West Ham hanging in the balance Bellamy is not likely to hold out too long for his full settlement.