InfoFactfile: All you need to know about Ryan Gravenberch
Get to know Ryan Gravenberch a little better with our factfile on the midfielder, who has become Liverpool’s fourth new recruit of the summer.
The Dutchman today sealed a transfer to the Reds on a long-term deal – subject to a work permit – after a year with Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, having previously risen through the youth ranks to enjoy successes with AFC Ajax in his home country.
Read on as we profile Jürgen Klopp’s new No.38…
A record-breaker at Ajax. Still just 21 now, Gravenberch has already been serving notice of his prodigious talent for many years and debuted for Ajax’s senior team in September 2018. An 83rd-minute substitute on that afternoon away at PSV Eindhoven, the midfielder’s appearance made history by breaking Clarence Seedorf’s record as the club’s youngest player in the Eredivisie, aged 16 years, four months and seven days. Three days later, he earned his first start and scored his first goal as Ajax beat HVV Te Werve in the Dutch cup – establishing himself as also the youngest player to score for the club in the professional era.
An U17 Euro winner. 2018 had already been a memorable and breakthrough year for Gravenberch at international level, as he helped the Netherlands win the U17 European Championship in England. Ryan made four appearances at the tournament, including a start in the final, which the Dutch won on penalties following a 2-2 draw with Italy. He has since progressed to senior international recognition, tallying 11 caps and one goal for his nation to date.
Ryan is from a footballing family. Both of his parents have played the game at amateur level, with his mother once recalling of the precocious Gravenberch: “It all started in a small sports hall on IJburg, you were only four years old. I remember you walking up to us during one of the training sessions and saying: ‘I’m just good, I score all the time.’ Your father and I couldn’t stop laughing.” Elder brother Danzell has made a career as a professional too. Also emerging from Ajax’s academy, Danzell has played in the Netherlands, Romania, England – with Reading – Belgium and Cyprus, where the forward currently represents Karmiotissa FC.
Gravenberch has been a league champion for the past three seasons. Gravenberch was an integral figure when Ajax surged to the Eredivisie title in 2020-21 with 102 goals and a 16-point winning margin, starting all but three matches in the campaign. And he helped his boyhood side retain the championship in 2021-22, clocking up 30 appearances in a more tightly contested race that saw Ajax pip PSV by two points having plundered 98 goals and conceded just 19. That trend continued after his move to Bayern last summer; Ryan was involved in 24 Bundesliga games en route to the Bavarians clinching the title on the final day of 2022-23.
He has played at Anfield before. Indeed, the midfielder has faced his new club as an opponent on two occasions competitively. Both of those came during the group stage of the 2020-21 Champions League, with Gravenberch playing the full 90 minutes each time as Liverpool recorded 1-0 victories over Ajax home and away. When Ryan runs out at Anfield for the first time as a Red, though, it will be his first experience of the stadium involving a crowd; for his previous visit, the game was held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He has twice been nominated for the Kopa Trophy. On an individual level, Gravenberch’s abilities and achievements were acknowledged when he was named on the 10-player shortlist for France Football’s prestigious Kopa Trophy in both 2021 and 2022. Created to celebrate the best players under the age of 21 during the previous year, the Kopa Trophy is presented annually alongside the Ballon d’Or. And the Dutchman’s consistency ensured he caught the eye of voters for two successive nominations.
Welcome to another Dutch Red. Gravenberch is the latest in a fairly long line of Netherlands-born players to represent Liverpool’s men’s team, with Erik Meijer and Sander Westerveld the first such arrivals at Anfield back in the summer of 1999. He is the second Dutchman to join the club in 2023 after Cody Gakpo and will of course find his national team captain – and recently appointed Reds skipper – Virgil van Dijk in his new dressing room too. With on-loan Sepp van den Berg also a compatriot, the Dutch contingent on Merseyside grows further.
He cites Zinedine Zidane as a football idol. The dynamic midfielder, who stands at 6ft2in, has previously described himself as a ‘contortionist’ on the pitch: “I am able to slip and turn everywhere. It is often said that tall players have less technique, but I have to rely on my technique.” And he has also mentioned French World Cup winner Zidane as a player he studied closely during the peak of his powers. “My idol in the Champions League was Zinedine Zidane, because of his style of play, his technique, his intelligence,” the Dutchman is quoted as explaining. “I really liked him. I try to imitate him a bit, to learn.”
You can follow Ryan on Instagram. The new Reds man posts under the username @ryanjiro_ and is followed by almost 700,000 people at the time of publication. But we’re sure that number will now rise very quickly...