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Ryan Babel faces Liverpool season of reckoning, says Rafael Benítez

• Forward must prove his worth this season

• 'Ryan knows he needs to perform at a different level'

Ryan Babel

Rafael Benítez wants Ryan Babel to reward the manager's judgment and justify his £11.5m transfer fee. Photograph: Richard Sellers/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

Rafael Benítez has told Ryan Babel he must give Liverpool a return on their £11.5m investment this season or risk becoming surplus to requirements at Anfield. The Liverpool manager has twice shown faith in the Dutch international in recent months, resisting the temptation to sell the 22-year-old as he sought to raise transfer funds this summer and then starting the forward in the Premier League opener at Tottenham Hotspur.

Babel disappointed in the defeat at White Hart Lane, however, and was an unused substitute as Liverpool recovered with a 4-0 victory over Stoke City on Wednesday. And Benítez admits he needs the former Ajax forward to make an impact this season.

"Young Dutch players need more time and this year Ryan has to give something and he knows he has to improve," said the Liverpool manager. "He did well in pre-season and was very good against England so that's why we started him at Tottenham, but then the team didn't play well. I have confidence he can give us something more. He knows. From the first training session this year I could see he had more confidence and was trying more. He has 60 games to prove himself this season and it is important he has the right mentality."

Benítez concedes that the forward needs more games to establish himself at Liverpool but, given the competition at the highest level, believes the onus is on players to seize whatever chance arrives at Anfield. He added: "Ryan knows he needs to perform at a different level. Maybe he had problems understanding the style at the beginning but now he needs to be more consistent. The problem is you need more games to be consistent but you cannot guarantee any player a place at a top club."

Liverpool, meanwhile, have completed the £1.5m signing of Sotirios Kyrgiakos from AEK Athens.


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