Newcastle are reportedly eyeing a move for Ryan Babel, and he would give Rafael Benitez the one thing he has never had on Tyneside – attacking depth.
What’s the story?
According to Football Insider, Benitez is plotting a summer swoop for Babel, providing the Spaniard is still at the club of course.
The Newcastle boss was the man who first brought Babel to England back in 2007 when he signed him for Liverpool, and the Magpies are said to be one of a number of teams keeping tabs on the Dutch international.
Babel joined Fulham in January and has impressed despite their relegation, and the report claims he wants to stay in the Premier League to help claim a place in the Netherlands’ Euro 2020 squad.
Pl>ymaker FC Exclusive: Jermaine Jenas reveals why Tyne-Wear is a more intense derby than anything London can offer – check out the video below….
The perfect squad signing?
Benitez knows all about Babel. The winger won no trophies during his time with Rafa’s Reds but did muster 22 goals and 18 assists in 146 appearances, and has won trophies in both Holland and Turkey.
The 32 year-old is showing no signs of slowing down either, grabbing four goals and four assists in 13 Fulham appearances, a superb return rate for a winger in a team that is so outmatched by most of their opponents.
It’s hard to see him getting in the Magpies’ starting XI though, as the trio of Miguel Almiron, Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez have finally given the Benitez the balanced attack he has been searching for, but Babel could add an extra element off the bench.
As of now, Benitez’s first attacking switch off the bench is usually to introduce Christian Atsu, who has scored just seven times in a whopping 93 appearances for the club.
Going from Atsu to Babel, who has scored goals, won trophies and played in pressure matches such as Champions League knockout games throughout his career, is a huge upgrade.
At 32 he will not play 90 minutes week in week out, but his mixture of speed, skill and strength will make him a real threat on the counter late in matches, and finally give Benitez the ability to change games with his bench, something which simply hasn’t been possible with the current squad.