According to Football Insider, Rafa Benitez is considering a move to sign Fulham attacker Ryan Babel on a free if he stays at St James’ Park this summer.
Babel is actually a player Rafa signed way back in 2007, with Benitez bringing the £11.5m Dutchman to Anfield for his first taste of English football all those years ago.
12 years on and a 32-year-old Babel has impressed during his short time at Fulham, although his 4 goals and 4 assists in 13 games have not been enough to keep the Cottagers up – and he’s set to be available on a free this summer.
I’m dubious about this one given A) the source reporting it and B) Babel’s age, with it seeming like a convenient story to create given he’s a former player of Rafa’s who’s keen to stay in the Premier League and available on a free.
Nevertheless, here’s what Football Insider have had to say about our apparent interest:
Rafael Benitez is plotting a summer swoop for Fulham ace Ryan Babel if he stays on as Newcastle United manager, Football Insider understands.
Benitez previously signed the Dutch winger from Ajax when he was at Liverpool in the summer of 2007, and he went on to spend three-and-a-half-years at the Merseyside giants.
A source close to the player has told Football Insider that Newcastle are among the clubs keeping tabs on Babel, who has made a big impression since joining Fulham in January.
The winger, 32, has scored four goals and supplied four assists from 13 matches for the relegated club and been key to their consecutive league victories.
Newcastle’s interest may depend upon Benitez staying on as manager, with his future shrouded in doubt due to a contract stalemate with the board.
Babel has put English top-flight clubs on red alert by revealing his first choice is to remain in the Premier League next season as he looks to ensure he will play in Euro 2020 for Holland next summer.
His contract at Fulham expires at the end of the season and he is available on a summer free transfer.
If Benitez were to stay, would you take Babel on a free?
He’s impressed during his second half of the season at Fulham, but I wouldn’t bank on Mike Ashley allowing us to sign a 32-year-old – even if he was available for nothing.