Ryan Gravenberch: From Amsterdam To Anfield

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Having already starred for Ajax and Bayern Munich, it is easy to forget that Liverpool’s latest addition is just 21 years old. Ryan Gravenberch has been tipped to make it to the top of the game from an early age and was handed his debut by now-Manchester United manager, Eric Ten Hag, when he was 16, becoming their youngest debutant in history surpassing Clarence Seedorf.

The star of the famous Ajax youth system drew parallels to Dutch legend Frank Rijkaard. Brian Tevreden, a former coach, promoted the midfielder to the U15’s setup when he was just 12 years old. In an interview, he stated: “Physically, I see Frank Rijkaard because he’s tall and very strong but technically I would say he’s a better version of Pogba in his best days at Juventus.”

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After his breakthrough into the first team, he was then moved back to the Ajax reserves or ‘Jong’ Ajax: “Sometimes I forget that I’m 16”, the Dutchman stated as he looked proudly at his achievement. It is easy to forget how young Gravenberch was and still is.
At 6ft2, the Dutchman is physically imposing but his technical ability is there for all to see.

This led to his big summer move to German Champions Bayern Munich, despite interest from Liverpool and Manchester United. However, the move ultimately didn’t work out with Gravenberch unable to supplant German duo Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka. And with the introduction of Konrad Laimer this summer, Gravenberch finds himself the fourth choice.

With a change in managers and issues across the executive board throughout the season, Bayern as a team struggled. His natural position as a no.8 isn’t necessarily suited to the Bavarians but under a Jurgen Klopp system, the German could perhaps tap into Gravenberch’s clear potential.

Having made just six starts last season, his rising potential career has halted. His frustration was clear as he told ESPN: “I expected to play more minutes than I did. I thought I would get some more chances.” His unsettled nature alerted Liverpool to a possible move.
However, his potential is still there to see. New Bayern boss, Thomas Tuchel, highlighted the youngsters’ ability to “turn and dribble very well.”

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Rafael Van Der Vaart, who enjoyed a stint in the Premier League at Tottenham, has given his strong views on Gravenberch’s potential and compared him to former LFC target Jude Bellingham. He said: “I think Gravenberch is better than him, in every way. Especially physically.” It is also worth noting, as reported by Melissa Reddy of Sky Sports, that he was one of three names shortlisted last summer as a potential midfielder. The other two were Aurelien Tchouameni who ultimately ended up at Real Madrid and of course, Jude Bellingham.
With game time limited, Liverpool finally have their man. His versatility combined with Europa League matches should see the Dutchman get plenty of game time. Both systems The Reds employ have a natural place for him. He can play as a No.10,8 and 6 but is primarily a box-to-box midfielder and under the tutelage of Klopp, he can be moulded into the world-class midfielder he is expected to become. Gravenberch will join up with Dutch international teammates, Cody Gakpo and Virgil Van Dijk, with fans hoping he can make an impact on the team in a similar manner.

In a long road full of twists and turns, Gravenberch has completed his journey from Amsterdam to Anfield.


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