Who is Man United and Liverpool target Ryan Gravenberch?

Ryan Gravenberch is the versatile midfielder Man United and Liverpool are tussling it out for as they look to make him the final piece of their jigsaws… but what would he bring?

  • Manchester United and Liverpool are both keen on signing Ryan Gravenberch
  • The in-demand midfielder may leave Bayern Munich due to his lack of game time 
  • WATCH: ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ – Episode 2 – Mail Sport’s brand new football show 

Erik ten Hag resembled a worried man indeed as he watched on while Tottenham waltzed through his Manchester United midfield time and time again.

It was a prophetic parting of the red sea, a signalling of a tidal wave that, should United fail to act quickly, may well bog down their season before it has even begun.

Last season, it took just two matches for United and Ten Hag to realise they were in trouble. On that occasion, they moved fast to snap up Casemiro, with the aging anchor helping tighten them up on the way to a trophy and third-placed finish.

This year, in an attempt to prevent a repeat headache, Mason Mount arrived from Chelsea. In pushing for the £60million man, Ten Hag has again put his reputation on the line, with his eye for talent in question after several underwhelming incomings.

The primary thread connecting the majority of his signings so far has been the fact that they have either played in the Netherlands or under Ten Hag, who has not been afraid to lean on what he knows in a bid to align his squad with his philosophy. 

United may never be a strong possession side under their current manager, but each member of his group are tasked with being brave and comfortable on the ball. Ryan Gravenberch, a potential Hail Mary this late in the window, certainly fits the bill. 

Bayern Munich midfielder Ryan Gravenberch is wanted by Manchester United and Liverpool

Gravenberch made just six starts last season and is now believed to be open to moving on

Both Erik ten Hag (left) and Jurgen Klopp (right) are on the hunt for more reinforcements

It is no surprise, then, that Liverpool are also eyeing up a swoop. 

Indeed, as reported by Mail Sport, Liverpool and Bayern Munich have held discussions over Gravenberch, who is open to leaving for regular first-team action. United remain in the background but are more hopeful of securing a loan deal.

That seems unlikely at this juncture, especially with Bayern needing to recoup funds, and United will need to sell before they can splash out further regardless.

Talks between Liverpool and Bayern have been described as productive and Gravenberch, 21, is certainly high on Jurgen Klopp’s list if a fee can be agreed.

The midfielder’s ability, untapped potential and versatility more than justifies the interest from both of the heavyweight clubs, and Klopp and Ten Hag would be able to lean heavily on him as the final piece in their respective jigsaws.

Gravenberch, after all, is adept on the left-side of a double pivot in a deeper position but also on the left of a midfield three, affording him freedom to push up higher. 

Gravenberch is able to play as a No 6 or No 8 and has impressed at both ends of the pitch

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From both areas he has caught the eye through his ability to drive forward with the ball and bring team-mates into play via his selfless running or sharp passing. 

For United and Liverpool, burdened with different progression problems as they are, Gravenberch would represent a cost-effective solution to tactical misfires. Against low blocks, for example, he would draw players out and create spaces to exploit.

Blessed with sound technique and a creative mind fizzing with solutions, it is a wonder he did not hit the ground running, or take off at all, in the Bundesliga. His spell at Bayern was a stark contrast to his dynamic performances with Ajax.

He has held a long-term flirtation with United, who have courted him in the past. However, Gravenberch instead opted to move to Germany in a £21million move last summer and went on to make just 33 appearances across his debut season.

Just six of those outings were starts, highlighting his struggle for sustained minutes.

His underlying statistics, though, point toward a player ready to impress, perhaps with the added impetus and promise of a fresh start in the Premier League. And most importantly, the numbers showcase his influence at both ends of the field. 

The youngster would help United and Liverpool progress more seamlessly through the thirds

Last season, Gravenberch averaged an impressive 3.91 shot-creating actions per 90, peeling back the curtain on his willingness to seize games by the scruff of the neck. 

This, when married with his combined number of successful medium and long passes per 90 (21.1), suggests the youngster would waste little time in easing into the systems at United and Liverpool and almost immediately injecting more creativity.

He is also adept with shorter passes and relishes interchanging and tricky movement. These create patterns of play and help teams work through the thirds. 

From the basic numbers alone, Gravenberch looks a target suitable for bringing about more unpredictability in a United side reliant on transitions. At Liverpool, he would enjoy a similar effect, albeit in a smoother, more rounded system.

At both clubs, their No 6s have been exposed too often so far this season. Casemiro appears lost at sea behind two marauding No 8s, forcing him to fly into rash tackles or track several runners in vain, while Liverpool are lacking a dominant enforcer. 

Gravenberch is undeniably not the long-term answer for this particular issue but averaged 2.66 successful tackles and interceptions last season. As a result, he could help his potential next club win the ball back quicker and more effectively. 

A fully-fledged Netherlands international, Gravenberch is chomping at the bit for a fresh start

He is a jack of all trades and may well be a cost-effective solution for his potential suitors

In short, he is an all-round performer; a jack of all trades set to take the next step.

At present, it appears Liverpool are in pole position, though United are continuing to monitor developments and attempting to offload unwanted players. Should that happen before the deadline, as is expected, a bidding war may well be triggered.

Ten Hag was effusive in his praise of Gravenberch a year ago and his words perfectly encapsulated the flair the midfielder still holds despite his current bit-part impasse.

‘Despite his young age, he has already experienced a lot and, above all, won titles,’ Ten Hag said. ‘He’s very important for our team because he’s a box-to-box player. 

‘He accelerates out of the positional play, does good dribbling, has enormous passing accuracy and takes part in the build-up of the game. Due to his athleticism and physique, he is also strong in the transition game and can also win the balls.’

All that remains is to see where Gravenberch ends up when the window slams shut.


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