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Liverpool star Ryan Gravenberch had a surprise training ground visit from Netherlands sporting director Nigel de Jong on Friday just weeks after he snubbed a call-up to his country’s under-21s team. Gravenberch joined Liverpool from Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich on transfer deadline day.
Liverpool shelled out £34million to prise Gravenberch away from Germany at the start of September. The 21-year-old then refused to link-up with his national team so he could concentrate on settling in on Merseyside.
His absence caused fury in the Dutch camp, with senior boss Ronald Koeman telling reporters: “We’re not happy about that. Nigel de Jong has been in touch with him.” And under-21s manager Michael Reiziger added: “I don’t think it’s a good decision, I told him that. I really don’t think it’s good.”
Given De Jong’s position with the Netherlands, he is likely to have a big say on Gravenberch’s international future. And he appeared to be running the rule over the young midfielder as he spoke to Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp at the AXA training ground.
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Gravenberch has been in excellent form for Liverpool this season but was left out of the Netherlands squad for their Euro 2024 qualifiers against France and Greece in October. When questioned over the omission Koeman explained: “We do have a certain opinion about cancelling for the Dutch Juniors or the Dutch national team.
“But I don’t think he has played much yet. Last Thursday there was a competition. I still think he is a great talent. I hope he can develop at Liverpool and play more, because then he will always be a player for the Dutch national team.”
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Gravenberch’s decision to stay in England in September could explain his outstanding form in a Liverpool shirt. And De Jong may have seen enough of the player to advise Koeman to bring him back into the Dutch fold.
“I can understand that the Dutch aren’t happy, Michael Reiziger or Ronald Koeman are not happy, I can get that,” Klopp said in September as he defended Gravenberch. “But the boy is a footballer through and through. He wants to play football all the time and he used that break to fix a lot of things which we usually do in a proper rush, so he didn’t have to do that. So from our point of view, it is good but he loves playing for Holland, whichever team. But that’s it.”
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