Talking Tactics

Gravenberch's versatility can bring balance to Liverpool midfield

14 Sep 2023
Ryan Gravenberch Liverpool 2

Adrian Clarke says 21-year-old Dutchman can play in several positions and will benefit Alexis Mac Allister

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Player analysis: Ryan Gravenberch (Liverpool)

The arrival of 21-year-old Gravenberch has handed Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp a welcome new central-midfield option.


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Since making his name as a prodigious talent with Ajax, where he shone as a holding midfielder, Gravenberch has proven he can adapt to different requirements. 

The Reds can use the 6ft 3in Dutch midfielder at No 6, as a box-to-box player, part of a central midfield pairing, or even in the No 10 role.

Hungry to impress after a frustrating season at Bayern Munich, Gravenberch has the potential to be a driving force in the middle for Liverpool wherever he is utilised.

See: Liverpool sign Gravenberch

Surging forward

Liverpool’s attacking style should suit Gravenberch, who loves to carry the ball forward.

He enjoys using a feint or quick feet to escape tight areas and from those positions, he is willing to go on the offensive.

During his outstanding period with Ajax, he was renowned for ball carries and making progressive passes between opposition defenders.

Gravenberch attacking stats in Eredivisie
  2020/21 Rank 2021/22 Rank
Progressive carrying distance 5,145m 3rd 3,924m 10th
Successful take-ons - - 64 6th

At Bayern, he also averaged 3.4 attempted dribbles per 90 minutes.

If Gravenberch can rediscover his best form at Anfield, it will be great news for Liverpool's attack.

Working as part of a midfield trio, the Dutch star can impact matches inside the final third with his quality.

“He is super-talented, he can drive with the ball, he can be a box-to-box threat and has a good eye for a pass," Klopp told the club's official website.

Gravenberch passing stats in Eredivisie
  2020/21 Rank
Progressive passes 311 1st
Passes into final third 206 6th

Gravenberch’s defensive numbers are solid enough to suggest he is very capable of being effective in Liverpool’s set-up out of possession.

He won possession 9.2 times per 90 minutes across 24 outings in the Bundesliga.

He will press, tackle, make interceptions, and recover the ball well, but his best work might be seen when sliding across to wide areas where he will cover full-backs and slow down opposition attacks.

Gravenberch's speed across the ground will be an asset to a midfield unit which contains far more athleticism than it did last season.

Freeing up Mac Allister

World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister has impressed in his first four Liverpool appearances, but in three of those, he was used as the deepest-lying midfielder.

The addition of Gravenberch may allow Klopp to push Mac Allister further forward on occasions.

With Gravenberch naturally straying to the left, we may see the two of them take turns at being in a higher position on that side, mirroring the work Dominik Szoboszlai does to the right of the centre.

Mac Allister attempted 84 shots last season, more than any other Brighton & Hove Albion player, but so far in 2023/24, he is yet to register his first shot for Liverpool.

Gravenberch’s presence will not only improve the Reds' midfield, but will help to bring the best out of Mac Allister.

Also in this series

Part 2: Why combative Amrabat can resolve Man Utd's midfield issues
Part 3: How Johnson will help accelerate Spurs' attack
Part 4: How Nunes can bring new dimension to Man City's play

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