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By ESPN Staff

Babel told he can leave Liverpool

Rafa Benitez is reported to have told winger Ryan Babel he is free to talk to other clubs about a possible £11million move from Liverpool. Babel arrived at Anfield in July 2007 but despite early promise, he has failed to hold down a regular place in the side and has mainly been used as an impact player from the bench.

He has reportedly asked for assurances that he will be given more of an opportunity next season.

But following discussions with the player's agent, Winnie Haatrecht, Benitez has been unable to offer such guarantees after starting with Babel only six times in the Premier League this term.

It has appeared likely for some time that Benitez would be prepared to listen to offers for Babel, and now he is ready to use the 22 year-old to raise cash.

The youngster, who is priced out of a return to Ajax, from whom he joined the Reds, has admirers in England, with Aston Villa, Tottenham and Arsenal believed to be showing interest.

Benitez needs cash to fund a spending spree that could bring Carlos Tevez, David Silva and Gareth Barry to Merseyside.

Barry's future at Villa is again in doubt with the club's owner Randy Lerner claiming the player would stay at Villa Park after discussions started over a new contract.

But Barry is known to want Champions League football, and Liverpool could sweeten a possible move by including Babel as bait. Villa still want £10m for Barry and a swap deal may suit all parties.

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