Liverpool have confirmed that they've accepted a bid from Hoffenheim for Ryan Babel. Media reports put the fee at €7m, or £5.8m, which is almost exactly 50% of what Liverpool paid for the winger/striker/professional Tweeter in the summer of 2007. The deal's not done yet – Babel still has to agree personal terms – but I expect we're past the point of no return.
I've little desire to rehash his term at Liverpool. His first season was his best, and he had some moments of brilliance throughout his tenure – including an undeniably important cameo in the Champions League quarterfinal against Arsenal – but disappointed more often than not. I had hoped he'd turned a corner last spring. Babel rarely got a consistent run of games, but always looked more impressive as a substitute, and Liverpool's last three managers have had little use for the player since that 2007-08 season.
So instead of a requiem, I'd like to do a poll.
Friend of the blog Mike Georger (you had better be reading Avoiding The Drop regularly) suggested that Babel was one of the worst five transfers in club history. It's a valid argument to make; only six players cost more: Torres, Keane, Mascherano, Johnson, Aquilani, and Cisse. Babel came with immense hype, looked to be a huge signing for the future, and could have put Liverpool over the top in 2008-09 if he performed to his potential. As Georger argued on Twitter, Liverpool has badly needed a winger for ages, and Babel was supposed to be the solution to that long-standing problem. For the cost and the need, situationally, the transfer was a huge flop.
But I'm still unconvinced. Liverpool have had more than a few questionable deals in the past decade, let alone in club history. So I thought I'd open this debate up to the general population.
My memory gets worse every day, so I'm limiting these choices to transfers in since Houllier. Please pick five. All fees (and links to player profiles) taken from the indispensable LFCHistory.net.
Your choices are:
• El Hadji Diouf: Bought £10m, Sold £3.5m
• Salif Diao: Bought £4.7m, Sold Free
• Christian Ziege: Bought £5.5m, Sold £4m
• Djibril Cisse: Bought £14.5m, Sold £6m
• Jermaine Pennant: Bought £6.7m, Sold: Free
• Ryan Babel: Bought £11.5m, Sold £5.8m
• Philipp Degen: Bought Free, Sold Free
• Robbie Keane: Bought £19m, Sold £16m
• Alberto Aquilani: Bought £17.1m, Sold £13m if Juve take option
• Christian Poulsen: Bought £4.5m, Sold Not Yet
I encourage you to comment to explain your choices or suggest any that I forgot. I'll try to remember to do a wrap-up post for this poll in a few days with a vote total and my choices.