More Patience or Cause for Concern: Ryan Gravenberch’s Time at Liverpool so Far
Liverpool’s long-term pursuit of Ryan Gravenberch came to a successful end, when the Reds signed the 21-year-old from Bayern Munich for £30million in the summer. The midfielder made an exciting start to his Liverpool career with strong performances in the UEFA Europa League, but has struggled to translate those into his domestic form.
Off the back of another poor performance against Arsenal on Sunday, some supporters have began to question whether Gravenberch is cut out for the Premier League. With his confidence shrinking each game at the moment, the youngster needs to find his feet as soon as possible.
Whilst Gravenberch has struggled since arriving at Anfield, the other three signings have had much brighter starts. Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai have nailed down places in Jurgen Klopp’s strongest eleven, whilst Wataru Endo has proven his clear ability.
Today we’re going to be looking at a few reasons as to why Gravenberch hasn’t managed to have the same effect since his deadline day signing.
Lack of Match Sharpness?
Gravenberch played just over 800 minutes across all competitions for Bayern Munich last season, with just 559 of those coming in the Bundesliga. Since signing for Liverpool, the 21-year-old has already played over 1,300 minutes and over 700 of those in the Premier League. Therefore, the youngster could potentially be suffering from burn out due to his severe lack of game time in Germany.
In the first couple of months on Merseyside, Gravenberch was a highly energetic player and seemed to be providing worthy competition to Curtis Jones on the left-hand side of Klopp’s midfield three. However, over the course of time those energy levels have dropped off massively, and so has his quality subsequently.
Time to Learn
The best thing that Gravenberch can be doing in order to understand what Klopp wants from him, is to watch Jones, who has quickly become one of Liverpool’s most important players. But, what is it exactly that Gravenberch needs to learn from Jones?
In terms of his ability on the ball, Jones offers much more retention in his passing with a 90% pass completion compared to Gravenberch’s 84%. However, it is important to note that Gravenberch’s passing is considerably more progressive, with 7.03 progressive passes per 90, compared to Jones’ 5.16.
A lot of Gravenberch’s criticism comes from his defensive numbers, which has massively declined in recent weeks. It seems that the Dutchman is losing more ground duels than before, which could definitely be down to fatigue.
Jones definitely seems to have earned the trust of Klopp and the Liverpool supporters, whereas Gravenberch is still battling for game time alongside Harvey Elliott on the bench.
Time to Panic?
Although Gravenberch’s recent form hasn’t been good enough, I don’t think it is the right time to panic and put extra pressure on the youngster. I often think that people forget just how young Gravenberch is and has played considerably less than Liverpool’s home-grown talents like Elliott and Jones, despite being a similar age.
Gravenberch is unfortunate in a way that his dip in form has come at a spell in the season where Liverpool relied on him. A strong run of form over the festive period could’ve helped nail down a place in the starting eleven, with the likes of Dominik Szboszlai and Wataru Endo absent.
There’s no doubt that the 21-year-old has the talent and skillset to become one of the best midfielders in the world, otherwise Liverpool wouldn’t have spent £30million on him. However, if his performances don’t improve quickly then he could lose the confidence of a lot of Liverpool supporters. I won’t be one of them, though.