Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has warned Dutch winger Ryan Babel that playing in the Beijing Olympics could wreck his first-team prospects.
Babel has returned from an ankle injury faster than expected and is now in contention for a place in Holland’s Olympic squad for the Games in August.
If the 21-year-old is selected he will miss the start of the Premier League season as well as the Champions League qualifiers. Benitez believes that could damage Babel’s chances of becoming a key player at Anfield.
“Obviously, we are really pleased that Ryan is coming back to training because he is an important player for us and he has worked hard to recover from the injury he suffered with Holland,” Benitez said.
“But we are really worried because after getting him fit it is likely that we could lose him again if he is selected for the Olympics.
“This is a big problem, we prepare him and then he goes away with the national team.
“This season is very important for him. In his first season he was settling in but this time he has more experience and we are looking for him to give something from the beginning, so it is really important for him to start working with his team.”
Babel isn’t the only Liverpool player who could swap Anfield for China next month. Argentina’s Javier Mascherano is also keen to play in the Games and Benitez is unhappy with the potential damage to his pre-season preparations.
“This is a strange pre-season because we have to wait for players to return from the Euros at the start and then at the end we are going to lose players to the Olympics,” he said.
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