He might be playing in the UEFA Nations League final, but when it comes to Middle Eastern football, there is no bigger flop in recent history than Ryan Babel.
The Dutchman’s disastrous spell at Al Ain saw him score just one goal in eight appearances, and he spent more time arguing with fans online than actually playing football. For all these reasons, Babel earns the honour of having his name engraved on Ahdaaf’s Flop of The Season Award.
Now let’s get down to business and look at the honorary mentions for this award.
Jose Manuel Jurado (Al Ahli Saudi); Samuel Eto’o (Qatar SC); Nacer Barazite (Al Jazira)
Ahmed Musa (Al Nassr)
It might not be a complete disaster for a winger/second striker to score 7 goals in 24 appearances in his first season in a new country. But when that striker is the most expensive signing in the league’s history and one who is nipped at his prime from a Premier League winning side, it is a completely different matter.
When Al Hilal sealed the signing of UAE star Omar Abdulrahman, Al Nassr’s response was fiery, acquiring Musa from Leicester City for a sum in the region of $40m.
— عبدالسلام الحارثي (@hfc_am1) August 13, 2018
And although Al Nassr did end up pipping their Riyadh arch-rivals to the league title, the 26-year-old Nigerian international only played a marginal role. Injuries and the sad death of his mother marred his first season, but unless the Nigerian could put in a player-of-the-year performance next season, he is destined to go down as one of the worst signings in the history of the Saudi Pro League.
Yohan Cabaye (Al Nasr)
Another Premier League export, another massive flop. When UAE’s Al Nasr announced the double signing of Alvaro Negredo and Yohan Cabaye last summer, there was a genuine feeling that 33 years of hurt were coming to an end and the league title would be celebrated at Al Maktoum Stadium come May.
— قناة أبوظبي الرياضية (@ADSportsTV) December 9, 2018
Reality could not be more different. The Dubai-based club finished the season in the bottom half, closer to relegation than they are to the top of the table. And while Negredo’s 17 goals went a long way towards justifying the outlay, Cabaye was a total embarrassment, contributing two assists, one goal, one red card and one “own-assist” in 13 appearances. The Frenchman was so bad, the club were quick to cut their losses and release him by January.
Congratulations, Yohan Cabaye. Three times Ligue 1 winner, Newcastle and Crystal Palace icon and the inaugural winner of the Ryan Babel award.