Rinsola Babajide’s tumultuous time with Liverpool FC is finally at an end — at least for now. The club announced that they have agreed to a loan deal with Brighton & Hove Albion for the services of the dynamic winger for the upcoming season.
“I’ve had good discussions with Rinsola since I arrived and this is a very good opportunity for her,” said new Liverpool manager Matt Beard.
“She was keen to play WSL this season and especially to be closer to her family down south. We’ll be following her progress with great interest and wish her well for a successful campaign with Brighton.”
Babajide was one of the few bright spots during the first half of Liverpool’s season in the FA Women’s Championship last year. She was aconsistent goal threats, scoring 6 goals in 15 matches to start the season. She was also a constant creative force for the team with her speed and close control, progressing the ball on the dribble down the left flank and creating havock as she dribbled into the box or whipped crosses in. Her performances in the first half of the season last year earned Rinsola her first call up to the England senior national team.
Unfortunately, the relationship between the player and the club came off the rails last winter. The club was mired in a stretch of poor results, and the team often didn’t have enough subs to fill out the bench. Manager Vicky Jepson was relieved of duties (though at the time it was not made clear if it was her decision or the clubs).
With so much turmoil at the club, Babajide asked to be loaned out or transferred to a WSL side so she could continue to press for a spot on the National team ahead of the Olympics. Brighton was said to be interested at the time, but Liverpool was not interested in letting their star player go. Babajide went as far as turning in an official transfer request, and held herself out of training for a week to try an force a move. Liverpool responded by freezing Babajide out of the senior team, and eventually sending her to train with the U21s for the rest of the season.
With Matt Beard coming in as a new manager for Liverpool this summer, and what seems to be an increase in intent and investment from the club, some hoped that the relationship with Babajide could be repaired. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. Babajide was never involved in Liverpool’s preseason preparations, and had removed all references to Liverpool in her social media accounts, so the writing was on the wall even before this move was announced. The biggest surprise is that it was only a loan deal. Babajide signed a new two-year contract in June of 2020, so her deal will expire next summer. At this point, all signs point to her leaving on a free after this season, even if Liverpool manage to gain promotion back to the WSL.