Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has praised his former Liverpool teammate Ryan Babel ahead of the Europa League qualifier against Galatasaray, as quoted by the Scotsman.
Following wins over Lincoln Red Imps and Willem II, the Turkish giants are the last team the Gers need to defeat in order to secure a place in the group stages for a third consecutive season.
However, Fatih Terim’s squad contains several high-quality players, including rapid winger, Babel.
The Dutch international played his football at Anfield between 2007 and 2011 and he’s since gone on to play all over the world, winning league titles with Ajax and Besiktas.
He’s now 33, but Gerrard has suggested he’s still very capable of hurting Rangers on Thursday night.
“I know Ryan very well, he is a good friend of mine,” he said, as quoted by the Scotsman. “I really enjoyed playing alongside him. I think he is now in a good place in terms of where he is at with his football.”
“He had a little bit of a mixed time at Liverpool but when he got it right, he was a hell of a player to play alongside because he is powerful, he is quick, he can go past players and he has a cannon in his right foot. So he is a very dangerous opponent.”
Rangers boss Gerrard raves about Ryan Babel ahead of Galatasaray clash – Verdict
A lack of consistency has held Babel back from reaching the very top of the game but as Gerrard has eluded to, he has all the raw attributes a footballer could wish for.
He’s back at Galatasaray after a brief loan spell at boyhood club Ajax earlier in the year and he scored the second goal as his club defeated Hadjuk Split 2-0 to reach this stage of the qualifiers.
Babel is likely to play on the left wing if he’s handed a start at Ibrox, meaning James Tavernier will be entrusted with keeping him quiet.
The Gers skipper has been in superb form recently but Babel’s presence may require him to rein in his attacking instincts, as, if the ex-Liverpool man is afforded space, he could be devastating.