Fulham clearly need reinforcements for the second half of the season if they are to stay in the Premier League and this week’s acquisition of Netherlands international Ryan Babel seems like an astute move (Fulham 7/4 – To Stay Up).
The sacking of Slavisa Jokanovic and Claudio Ranieri’s subsequent appointment as Cottagers boss was made in November in the hope he could inject some life into a side that seemed to be heading straight back down to the Championship.
Results have not really picked up yet under the affable Italian, and the Londoners need more quality if they are to fight their way up the table from their current position of second-bottom – three points ahead of basement boys Huddersfield but still five from safety.
Ranieri did win his first game in charge but just one success since – admittedly a vital 1-0 success over the Terriers – suggests it is going to be a tough battle for Ranieri’s side between now and late spring, with Fulham on offer at 2/5 with Betfred to go down.
But the signing of Babel can only help. He was plagued with inconsistency when last in the Premier League with Liverpool but he joined the Reds over a decade ago now and his four-year spell at Anfield between 2007 and 2011 was a sharp learning curve for a player who appears to now arguably be in the best form of his career at the age of 32.
After joining Besiktas in 2017, he helped them to win a 15th league title during his debut campaign and has scored 22 goals in 62 outings over three seasons, while he is now a regular again in the Netherlands line-up.
Babel, who has joined on a short-term but permanent deal and not on loan, will initially stay for the rest of the season.
He is not going to keep Fulham up on his own but if further signings of similar calibre follow, the Cottagers could easily extend their stay in the top flight beyond May.
Odds subject to change