In the aftermath of Liverpool’s Europa League clash with LASK, Theo Squires discusses the standout performance of Ryan Gravenberch during his first start and what it reveals about his transfer decision.
Ryan Gravenberch made no secret of his frustrations during his brief stint at Bayern Munich last season. Although he had won the Bundesliga, his limited playing time, with just five starts in the league and Champions League despite 33 appearances in all competitions, didn’t satisfy the ambitious 21-year-old midfielder.
Having long been a target for Liverpool, it seemed likely that he would make a summer exit, despite Bayern’s insistence to the contrary. Gravenberch featured for a mere nine minutes in Bayern’s opening three games of the season, signaling that a change was imminent.
Jurgen Klopp wasted no time in giving Gravenberch the opportunity he craved. The Dutch midfielder started in Liverpool’s Europa League opener against LASK Linz, even amidst a somewhat disjointed team performance due to wholesale changes. It didn’t take long for Gravenberch to showcase his talent and validate Liverpool’s willingness to pay up to £40 million for his services.
Considering his peripheral role in Bavaria, it would have been understandable if Gravenberch appeared rusty or needed time to settle into Klopp’s system. He endured some rough challenges from LASK defenders and experienced moments of inconsistency in the first half of his full Reds debut.
However, Gravenberch’s exquisite touch and ability to advance with the ball made him a threat in the final third. He developed a promising partnership with Harvey Elliott, nearly orchestrating an opening goal with a clever one-two that ultimately got thwarted by a last-ditch tackle. Yet, he also lost possession on occasion, displaying visible frustration. In one instance, he angrily struck the ground, but Elliott was quick to provide support and encouragement.
After halftime, Gravenberch turned the game in Liverpool’s favor with a moment of brilliance. He seized an opportunity to run onto a through-ball down the right, delivering a pinpoint low cross that led to Luis Diaz’s goal.
The joy in Gravenberch’s celebrations with Diaz was evident to all. After a year of not enjoying regular football, he has found a new home at Liverpool.
Despite Gravenberch’s promising start, his day was cut short as he was forced off due to injury just 13 minutes after the goal. There’s speculation that he may transition into a deeper midfield role as his Liverpool career progresses, but for now, he showcased his abilities as a dynamic number eight in a box midfield, particularly when paired with Elliott.
One can only hope that Gravenberch’s withdrawal was a precautionary measure. Klopp has been eager to work with him for a long time, and this encouraging debut performance highlighted what Bayern Munich may have missed out on.
With a summer overhaul, Liverpool’s revamped midfield is now complete. Yet, this 3-1 victory in Linz, featuring just 13 minutes of the new midfield trio in action, is only the beginning of what could be a promising partnership.