Ryan Babel

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Bargain buys: Relegated players for Premier League clubs to target

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This season, it was Ben Foster arriving at Watford from West Brom and Xherdan Shaqiri switching from Stoke City to Liverpool.

Before that, it was Harry Maguire from Hull City to Leicester, and Jordan Pickford from Sunderland to Everton. Idrissa Gana Gueye from Aston Villa to Everton before that.

[ MORE: Terriers release Williams, Lossl ]

Yes nearly every year, at least one player from a relegated squad becomes a difference maker of some repute on a safe Premier League side.

So who will it be this year? Here are some candidates, though several may look to help their clubs rebound back to the top flight.

Neil Etheridge, GK, Cardiff City — The PL’s first Filipino player nearly kept the goal-starved Bluebirds in the top flight, somewhat similar to Lukasz Fabianski‘s work at Swans before moving to West Ham. Is there a spot for him somewhere in the top tier?

Philip Billing, CM, Huddersfield Town — The Swiss defensive midfielder averaged 2.7 tackles and two interceptions per game for the Terriers, and is just 22 years old.

Victor Camarasa, MF, Cardiff City — Five goals and four assists for a side that couldn’t find the back of the net shouldn’t be scoff material. At just 24, someone should take a look.

Aaron Mooy, CM, Huddersfield Town — Capable of unleashing a rocket, the former Man City pupil wasn’t as good in year two at the John Smith’s Stadium. Most weren’t.

Callum Paterson, DF, Cardiff City —  Also just 24, the versatile Scot can deputize at defense, midfield, and occasionally forward for his new side.

Ryan Babel, FW, Fulham — The winger may be 32, but did he ever look quite this good on his first run through the Premier League. Five goals and three assists in 16 appearances following a mid-season transfer.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, MF, Fulham — He’s a bit of a card accumulator, but Fulham was better with him than without him. The 23-year-old was also outstanding at Marseille in the Ligue 1 club’s run to last season’s Europa League Final.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, FW, Fulham — He’s now scored and angered defenses on two offense-hungry clubs, and rang up 11 goals while nabbing an almost silly 6.5 aerial wins per match. He’s still only 24.

Premier League Preview: Fulham v. Cardiff City

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  • Bluebirds need points to keep PL status alive
  • Cardiff won 4-2 on Oct. 20
  • All-time series tied 25-12-25

Cardiff City’s hopes of a surprising run to Premier League safety could take a huge step on Saturday against Fulham at Craven Cottage (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Bluebirds would pull level on points with 17th place Brighton and Hove Albion with a Saturday morning win, a dollop of pressure added to the Seagulls’ minds before the marquee match-up with Newcastle United at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Fulham has won two-straight, toppling Everton and Bournemouth in performances fueled in part by Ryan Babel and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Babel has scored four goals and three assists during his half-season in London.

Cardiff has scored just three goals in its last five matches, three of which were 2-0 losses.

What they’re saying

Fulham interim boss Scott Parker on keeping up form: “For me personally as a little nugget it would be pleasing to win three in a row, but ultimately for the football club and as a team, that’s what pleases us most. … I often say that the starting XI are the face of the football club, but behind the scenes there are a lot of people who work tremendously hard up to that point on a Saturday to try and get three points so that they come in Monday morning with a smile on their face.”

Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock on the prolonged relegation battle“In the situation we’ve been in from day one we knew it was going to be difficult,  but we’ve overcome all the doom and gloom and all the predictions and we’ve enjoyed it. We’ve still got our biggest challenge ahead and it’s an opportunity for the lads to put their names into the history books.”

Prediction

Cardiff keeps hope alive, but not with a three-point boost. Fulham finds the net, too, in a 1-1 draw.

Ryan Babel leaving relegated Fulham at end of season

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Ryan Babel has been a bright spot for Fulham since joining in January, returning to the Premier League eight years after departing and displaying positive two-way contributions for the Whites despite their confirmed relegation to the Championship.

The 32-year-old now says he will leave the club at the end of the season, with the hope of staying in the English top flight. While Babel says he’s enjoyed his time at Fulham and is grateful for the opportunity for Premier League redemption, his hope of making the Euro 2020 squad with the Netherlands will see him look to remain at the highest level.

“I am at the stage where I have to make the right decision for my family and the future,” Babel told reporters. “I have enjoyed playing back in the Premier League and I need to play top-flight football next season to be playing at the the Euros if we qualify. I still think I have two or three years ahead of me and of course if I have the opportunity to stay in the Premier League, that would great. Staying in the Premier League would be my first choice.”

Since joining Fulham in January on a short six-month contract, Babel has been a regular in the Whites starting lineup, starting all 13 league games and contributing four goals and three assists, including three goals over the last five matches. He scored a goal and assisted another in the surprise win over Everton two outings ago and is enjoying playing under interim manager Scott Parker.

“I think the intensity of being a team without the ball has changed,” Babel said of the play under the new boss. “Fulham have been playing pretty well all season with the ball but without the ball was the problem. We were conceding, in my opinion, easy goals, and now it is two clean sheets so something has improved.”

One natural link for Babel to stay in the Premier League could be Newcastle. Current boss Rafa Benitez signed the Dutchman back in 2007 at Liverpool, and while there is speculation about Benitez’s immediate future at the club, should he stay there could be interest, with English tabloid The Daily Star already making that connection.

Babel will likely be one of many changes at Fulham this coming summer, with young Ryan Sessegnon also likely to leave the club as the Whites’ front office looks to contend with the fallout from last summer’s failed transfer market where the club spent over $100 million mostly on flops.

Late penalty puts Liverpool atop table (video)

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  • Mane opens scoring in 26th
  • Ex-Reds striker Babel stars in loss
  • Mane wins late penalty, Milner converts

James Milner‘s 81st minute penalty saved Liverpool blushes in a 2-1 defeat of Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

The Reds had a Sadio Mane-inspired lead, but had given it back through a comedy of errors Ryan Babel equalizer.

Liverpool goes atop the Premier League on 76 points, having played one more match than Man City (74 points).

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Some lively dribbling from ex-Liverpool man Ryan Babel cued up Jean-Michael Seri for a shot that sailed over the goal.

Andrew Robertson hit a cross too close to Fulham keeper Rico after some fancy dribbling of his own.

Liverpool was asking all the questions when Mane put them ahead, beginning the move on the left wing before passing to and receiving from Roberto Firmino for 1-0.

Mane joins three players chasing Sergio Aguero’s league-leading goal total of 18: Mohamed Salah, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Harry Kane.

Mane has nine goals in his last nine PL matches, and 11 in 11 overall.

Liverpool was a bit lucky that a rash foul from Fabinho didn’t earn him as second yellow card and send the Reds down to 10 men at the break.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Fulham did not quit, and looked the better money for a second half goal. A first break saw Aleksandar Mitrovic nod into the goal only to see an offside flag deny the marker.

Babel was at the center of it all, and led a second break which ended with a Alisson Becker save on Andre Franck Zambo Anguissa.

That’s when calamity occurred in the center of the pitch. James Milner mishit a clearance, and Virgil Van Dijk casually headed back toward Alisson. The goalkeeper lost the ball in his feet, and Babel was on the doorstep to slot home.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

The stalemate lasted just a few minutes, as Milner converted a penalty conceded when Rico impeded Mane in the box.

Mohamed Salah had a chance to put the match to bed following a Mane-led run, but the Egyptian fired right at Rico.

Babel: Fulham keeps giving away “very cheap goals”

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Ryan Babel isn’t in the mood for moral victories, and has pointed criticism for his Fulham teammates following a 3-1 come-from-ahead loss at West Ham United on Friday that left the Cottagers eight points adrift of safety with 11 matches to play in the season.

[ RECAP: West Ham 3-1 Fulham ]

Babel struck in the third minute to collect his first Premier League goal since Dec. 2010 (for Liverpool v. Aston Villa), giving him a marker to go with his two assists in five matches since arriving from Besiktas.

But his post-match comments were focused on mentality and fragility.

“Every time we start, we’re very exciting, everybody’s hungry and then we give away very cheap goals,” Babel said. “That kind of breaks our spirit very quick and very easy. Not only today, but since I’ve been here, the goals we don’t deserve the concede them because of a reason. We have to try to change that as soon as possible.”

Babel was frustrated by West Ham’s equalizer, scored by the arm of Javier Hernandez.

“It’s difficult. They should use VAR. Disappointing.”

Fulham’s next match is huge, a trip to relegation-threatened Southampton. Three of the four following matches are against Top Six sides including Liverpool and Man City.