Rivals Liverpool and Manchester United are both reportedly interested in signing Ryan Gravenberch. The 21 year old has already showcased his talents on a European stage for Ajax and Bayern Munich and he has appeared 11 times for The Netherlands.
With regular minutes limited for Gravenberch currently under Thomas Tuchel at the Allianz Arena, a move to one of England's biggest clubs may appeal. Here’s why the Premier League duo are chasing the midfielder.
Why Liverpool and Man Utd are chasing Ryan Gravenberch
Technical & physical qualities
Ajax academy graduate Ryan Gravenberch possesses the technical skills you’d expect from a young player to have emerged through the Dutch club's youth ranks. He first joined Ajax way back in 2010 as a young boy and quickly earned recognition for his ability on the ball.
His passing range is particularly impressive with Gravenberch ranking well when it comes to progressive passing. He’s somebody who likes to drop deep to get on the ball but regularly finds gaps in the opposing teams with passes that break the lines and put his team on the front foot.
He’s also good in tight spaces, with quick feet enabling him to adapt quickly to situations and engage in quick link-up play with his teammates. Those are skills that should serve him well should he move to England given the frenetic pace of many Premier League matches.
As well as his technical qualities, Gravenberch’s physique would also be an asset to both Liverpool and Manchester United. The Dutchman is 6 feet 3 inches tall which would make him one of the taller players on either team.
He’s also quick and agile, making him more than capable of running with the ball and breaking into more advanced areas of the pitch. His frame might be described as slender rather than powerful, but at 21 he still has time to further develop physically.
Influential at both ends of the pitch
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is of course no stranger to Gravenberch who he knows from his days at Ajax with the midfielder following his boss out the door of the Amsterdam club last summer to join Bayern Munich.
The United boss has claimed that the number eight role is Gravenberch’s best position. He certainly possesses the attributes to cover a lot of ground, tracking back to help out defensively when necessary whilst also making bursts forward to have an impact in the final third.
He had a relatively impressive goalscoring record as a young player with Ajax, scoring 8 league goals as a 17 year old during the 2019/20 season, 6 for the reserve side in the Eerste Divisie and 2 for the seniors in the Eredivisie.
However as time has passed, Gravenberch has more frequently been used in a deeper role, often operating on the left side of a double pivot which has meant his responsibilities have more revolved around starting moves rather than finishing them.
Ryan Gravenberch made an €18.5m switch to Bayern Munich last summer but things haven’t gone as well as he’d have hoped in Bavaria. Despite featuring in most of Bayern’s Bundesliga games, the 21 year old made just 3 starts in the league, in addition to only 2 Champions League starts.
His limited game-time has alerted the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United to the possibility of snapping up Gravenberch this summer. The player’s struggle for regular minutes in the Bundesliga is an indicator that he’s not quite the finished article just yet, but Bayern are strong in his area of the pitch. The potential is clearly still there and he’s by no means the first talented young player to suffer a setback in his development.
Manchester United may believe that they can have the edge on Liverpool when it comes to this potential transfer given Gravenberch’s history with Ten Hag. The United boss knows the midfielder better than anyone and should be well placed to guide the youngster through the next period of his progression.
Unlike Liverpool, they can also currently offer Champions League football, although with the likes of Casemiro, Mason Mount and Bruno Fernandes as midfield rivals, Gravenberch’s first team opportunities may not initially be any more frequent than they currently are in Germany.
Given the difficulties Liverpool have had in landing their top midfield targets, Gravenberch may see more football were he to move to Anfield. The Reds have now added Wataru Endo as a defensive midfield option but they still look a bit light in the deeper midfield roles and the Dutch international could prove a very useful addition.