Liverpool had Ryan Gravenberch on list of 3 ‘game-changer’ midfielders

Though Liverpool were forced to wait until the end of the summer transfer window to move for Ryan Gravenberch, their interest is long-standing.

In fact, the club had been hoping to land a deal for the Dutch midfielder even before he swapped Ajax for Bayern Munich.

According to Sky Sports’ Melissa Reddy, last year recruitment staff had identified Gravenberch among three midfielders who could go on to be “game-changers” at Anfield.

The other two talents earmarked were Jude Bellingham and Aurelien Tchouameni – both players subject to big plays from Liverpool in the transfer market.

In a report for Sky Sports not long after the Netherlands international’s switch to Munich in 2022, Reddy also named Enzo Fernandez and Nico Barella as being on the club’s shortlist.

SINGAPORE - Wednesday, August 2, 2023: Bayern Munich's substitute Ryan Gravenberch before a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and FC Bayern Munich FC at the Singapore National Stadium. Bayern won 4-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With the Reds ultimately unsuccessful in moves for Bellingham and Tchouameni, who both opted to join Real Madrid instead, they will be third time lucky with Gravenberch.

Pending the results of a medical, the 21-year-old is due to sign a five-year contract as part of a move that could be worth £38.5 million.

He will join Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Wataru Endo in a major revamp of Liverpool’s midfield after the departures of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

And though he would appear to be almost an afterthought given how late a deal was struck, that is seemingly not the case.

SINGAPORE - Wednesday, August 2, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker makes a save from Bayern Munich's Ryan Gravenberch during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and FC Bayern Munich FC at the Singapore National Stadium. Bayern won 4-3. (Credit: Singapore Festival of Football)

It is clear that Klopp and his assistant Pepijn Lijnders have long been admirers of Gravenberch, and his profile is undoubtedly one which appealed to scouts and analysts.

He only turned 21 in May and has already played 137 senior games across his time with Ajax and Bayern, along with 11 caps for the Netherlands.

Among his midfield peers across Europe, Gravenberch is in the high percentiles for both on- and off-ball work as well as underlying statistics such as expected goals and assists.

It remains to be seen exactly which role he will take up in Klopp’s side, but it has been reported that the manager views him as “multi-functional.”

Though a natural No. 8, it is claimed that there is a belief within the club that Gravenberch could also operate as a No. 6.

Alongside Mac Allister, 24, and Szoboszlai, 22, he resembles an exciting part of a much-needed evolution in the middle of the park at Anfield.

His stock may have dropped during a fallow year at Bayern, but the hope is that he can go on to become a “game-changer” again.