Ryan Gravenberch: Benefit Of The Doubt

The cutthroat world of the highest levels of football is certainly like walking on a tightrope. With
the slightest margins lost or gained throughout a few games being the difference between a permanent starting eleven berth or being glued to the bench. Throughout the years, countless players have put on the famous Liverpool shirt and have walked this perilous tightrope. The latest to do so is young Dutchman Ryan Gravenberch. After a strong showing in his first few Liverpool appearances, he has drawn the collective ire of the fan base.

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Gravenberch’s Notable Lapses

From an objective standpoint, criticism is warranted. In comparison to his midfield peers,
Gravenberch sits at the bottom of the pecking order. This is primarily due to a lack of both offensive and defensive discipline. Those who’ve watched Klopp-ball over the years know that the ability to pick your moments with the ball and maintain the shape off of the ball is what keeps the team operating at its best. Gravenberch, unfortunately, doesn’t do either well.

The 21-year-old sometimes forces play with the ball on his feet, running into defenders, or putting in half-baked challenges when pressing the ball. If there’s one thing you can’t be in a Klopp midfield, it’s half-hearted, and this has been the case for Gravenberch over his first few months with the Reds.

An Intriguing Skill Set

There’s a reason that Gravenberch was a mainstay on those Ajax teams that regularly graced the Champions League a few seasons back. The Dutchman has a knack for driving forward with the
ball at his feet. His ability to stretch opposing defenses with his directness and dribbling was crucial. This was especially evident during his first few games with the club in the Europa League group stages. He looked unplayable driving forward with the ball, leading to dominant victories, albeit against admittedly inferior opponents.

As the season progressed, and Liverpool faced more disciplined opponents that employed low blocks, Gravenberch struggled. The Dutchman hasn’t won over the Liverpool faithful yet, but there’s no doubt that there is a player with a serviceable skill set the club can work with.

Hope For The Future?

ASTV Shorts: Gravenberch’s Future at LFC

As valid as the criticism for Gravenberch is, there is an element of this being overblown at times, particularly the 3-1 loss against Arsenal. Despite the Dutchman being poor, no one in the squad performed at an adequate level. The fact remains that Gravenberch is only 21 years old. If we were so quick to write off players so early in their careers, then we wouldn’t be benefitting from the improved play from both Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott.

Lest we forget that these are two players who, despite having notable struggles early on, are key contributors to Liverpool’s excellent 2023/24 season. Fans had their gripes for both players at numerous points over the last few years and have been forced to eat their words throughout this season. There’s every reason to believe that Gravenberch can turn it around, similar to how Elliott and Jones did this season.

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Overall, it remains to be seen whether Gravenberch can eventually win the trust of the Liverpool faithful. The important thing is that we actually give the young lad a chance. Reds fans pride themselves on being one of the most knowledgeable in the sport, and because of this, we should all be wise to the reality that every young player goes through a rough patch in their careers. I fully back Gravenberch to work through this rough patch of his and establish himself as a solid midfield option for both Klopp and whoever the future Liverpool manager would be.

Another Monday of looking for answers as we look at the recent struggles but put all of it in perspective as we talk about the 35th anniversary and what it means to us
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