Would a transfer to Man United or Liverpool suit Ryan Gravenberch most?

Ryan Gravenberch is on the periphery at Bayern under Thomas Tuchel

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“If he’s patient, he’ll get his chance.” Thomas Tuchel once again discussed Ryan Gravenberch recently as rumours resurfaced surrounding a potential summer exit. The Dutchman struggled for game time in his debut season at Bayern Munich and with both Manchester United and Liverpool in the market for midfield reinforcements, the Premier League pair have turned their attention to the former Ajax man.

Granvenberch was an unused sub in Bayern’s opening weekend 4-0 win at Werder Bremen. Even as both Leon Goretzka and Jamal Musiala were withdrawn in the second half, Tuchel elected to use summer addition Konrad Laimer and the experienced Thomas Muller, respectively, ahead of the 21-year-old. Seemingly overlooked by Tuchel once more, it’s no wonder that reports of a move away from the German side have re-materialised.

Since joining from the Dutch outfit, Gravenberch has needed to be incredibly patient. He registered just 561 minutes of game time in the Bundesliga last season, with just three of his 21 appearances coming from the outset. The addition of Laimer seems to have pushed him further down the pecking order. No wonder an exit has been mooted.

Given the stage of his career, Gravenberch needs regular game time to continue his development, and there is the impression he is being wasted on the Bayern bench. The opportunity to link back up with former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag at United is one that would undoubtedly appeal to the player himself, while Liverpool are long-term admirers of the Netherlands international.

The argument now is which team would be a better fit for the Bayern man. “I see him in an attacking position,” Tuchel said of Gravenberch recently, but his best performances have come when operating in a deeper role. He excelled in this position with Ajax, where he lined up alongside West Ham’s new ball winner Edson Alvarez in Ten Hag’s preferred 4-2-3-1 setup. It’s not too dissimilar to the system implemented at United now, but the issue is the Premier League outfit are far too open.


In United’s opening two Premier League games this season, summer signing Mason Mount has started alongside Casemiro, and while the former is a high presser, the midfield has been carved open with ease. United have conceded the second-most shots (40) in England’s top tier after the opening two games, while as a team, they have been dribbled past at least nine more times (36) than any other side. Bruno Fernandes (7) tops this metric of all players, with Casemiro (6) ranking joint-second.

Sofyan Amrabat has emerged as a potential target for the club between now and next week, but in Gravenberch, Ten Hag would be working with a player who he is familiar with. He can play that left-sided deeper midfield role and do so to a very good standard having averaged a modest 1.9 tackles per 90 in his final Eredevisie campaign. In addition, his sense of anticipation means he can quickly snuff out opposition attacks and use his strength to carry the ball upfield, as noted by a solid return of 2.6 dribbles per 90 in the 2021/22 Eredivisie season.

Then there is the positional discipline that means United would be far more difficult to break down. Mount may work hard off the ball, but he’s better suited to an advanced role in Ten Hag’s side rather than at the base of the midfield. A natural tendency to drift forward means there is a lot of pressure on 31-year-old Casemiro to cover the ground, and at his age, he needs support. This much was obvious as Wolves carved United open at Old Trafford earlier this month, and again at the weekend once Tottenham wrestled control of the game.

Gravenberch may be an effective ball carrier, but he does so to ease pressure on the defence and open the angles to feed passes to his attacking teammates. That’s not to say he’d strictly sit alongside Casemiro – he is able to pry open defences if required – but rather the Dutchman would provide a link between the two banks of midfield, allowing United to dominate opponents without being caught short in the middle of the park.

It’s these traits that would benefit Liverpool, too. The additions of Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Wataru Endo have certainly eased the midfield clearout, but if the transfer window closes without further reinforcements, then the Reds could be in for a long season. Missing out on Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia to Chelsea was a blow for Liverpool, and if they were to lose out on Gravenberch to United, then their transfer window could be considered to some a disaster.

The issue, though, is that Gravenberch is not the midfielder Liverpool should be prioritising in the final knockings of the transfer window. They need a player who can regularly win possession back and is prepared to sit in front of the defence in a similar style to Fabinho.


Gravenberch would swell the midfield ranks, yet wouldn’t rectify the issue at hand in Jurgen Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3 system. If dominance is what Klopp craves, then there is certainly a place for Gravenberch in the German’s ideal midfield, yet the Dutchman’s addition wouldn’t solve the biggest problem area for the Reds.

Either way, Gravenberch is a player who needs to be rescued from Bayern. Tuchel speaks of the midfielder needing to be patient, and yet he is a young up and coming potential star that requires minutes to build upon what was a bright start to his Ajax career. At this stage, a reunion with Ten Hag at Old Trafford would be a better fit for Gravenberch than a switch to Anfield.

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