Erik ten Hag’s previous comments about Ryan Gravenberch demonstrate just why the former Ajax star was so highly rated before a move to Bayern Munich threatened to derail his career.
Prior to signing for Liverpool in a £34m Deadline Day deal, Gravenberch was also coveted by Manchester United.
The Red Devils eventually agreed a loan deal for Sofyan Amrabat but had held an interest in Gravenberch, due to Ten Hag’s experience with the player while both were at Ajax.
Now 21, Gravenberch broke through at the Ajax youth academy and was given his first senior appearances by Ten Hag, then the manager of the Dutch giants.
The midfielder became the youngest player in Ajax history to make an Eredivisie appearance when Ten Hag gave him his debut at 16 years and 130 days back in 2018.
Gravenberch went on to make 103 outings for Ajax and even won the Johan Cruyff Trophy (an award for the best Dutch footballer playing in the Netherlands) in 2021, as he rose to prominence as one of the most highly rated young players in the world.
READ MORE: What went wrong for Ryan Gravenberch at Bayern Munich?
Speaking of Gravenberch’s talents back in April 2022, before his €18m move to Bayern, Ten Hag outlined the rising star’s many qualities as a midfielder, describing him as a ‘box-to-box player’.
“Despite his young age, he has already experienced a lot and, above all, won titles,” the now United manager. “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. He’s come a long way, but can still learn a lot.”
On another occasion, Ten Hag also claimed that Gravenberch was not averse to hard work.
“He has a lot of capabilities, especially in an attacking sense, but he understands hard work,” Ten Hag said.
Ten Hag’s comments line up with Jurgen Klopp’s own assessment, with the Liverpool boss saying about his new signing: “He is super-talented, he can drive the ball, he can be really a box-to-box threat, he is going there. He has a good eye for a pass and a good pass.”
In a report by the Athletic, it is claimed that Liverpool recruitment team see similarities between Gravenberch and ex-Red and fellow Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum – a comparison also drawn by Anfield Watch features writer Sam McGuire.
The same report by the Athletic reveals that ‘positive dialogue’ between Liverpool and Gravenverch’s agents started earlier this year, while the Reds’ chief scout Barry Hunter enjoyed a positive meeting with the player’s father, Ryan Senior, back in April.