There was a familiar face in attendance at De Toekomst this evening. Ryan Babel, the ex-Ajax, Liverpool, and 1899 Hoffenhein striker, watched Jong Ajax demolish Achilles ’29 7-1 in the Eerstedivisie. Currently a free agent after his stint with Abu Dhabi’s Al Ain, Babel will begin training with the Jong Ajax this week. 

  • By Glenn Billingham
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babel-aja-reuA native Amsterdammer, and a product of the Ajax youth academy, Babel last featured for the Ajax in 2013. After personally buying out the remaining year of his contract with German club, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Babel registered 5 goals in 22 appearances during the title-winning 2012/13 season. Babel’s swift exit was again of his own accord. Sentiments of ‘paving the way for the next generation’ were expressed as Babel signed for Turkish club, Kasımpaşa.

Babel spent two fruitful seasons in the Turkish Süper Lig before switching to Al Ain. Despite a promising start in the UAE, Babel’s middle-eastern adventure turned sour. Disciplinary issues relating to social media use, non-payment of salary, and being banished to train with the reserve teams were some of the hurdles Babel faced. Having last played for the club in December 2015, it has taken Babel nearly 9 months to secure an amicable release from his contract.

Rather than be with a view to signing, Babel’s third reunion with Ajax appears to be nothing more than a temporary marriage of convenience. It is believed Babel is purely keeping himself in shape while searching for a new club. However, still shy of his thirtieth birthday and holder of 42 Dutch caps, there is a mild swell of opinion that Babel could be a welcome addition to the current Ajax squad.

Lacking an out-and-out striker, this season has seen Ajax relying heavily on goals from midfield. Despite Peter Bosz’s persistence that Bertrand Traore will rise to fill that void, evidence on the field doesn’t yet back up the managers claims. The recent signing of Hakim Ziyech has stirred some much-needed excitement and optimism in Ajax’s final third, but something of an Arkadiusz Milik shaped void remains.

Babel’s presence at this evening’s fixture seemed to fire another striker into gear. Mateo Cassierra, the Colombian signed from Deportivo Cali, registered four goals to further stake his first-team claims.

Glenn Billingham (6 Posts)