Although he is still far from where he may be, the signs are quite encouraging.
Manager Jurgen Klopp was undoubtedly thrilled with Ryan Gravenberch’s performance during Liverpool’s 5-1 Europa League victory over Toulouse.
The German tactician praised the 21-year-old Dutchman, stating, “A good player, huh?,” in an interview with TNT Sports. Nice player, I told him when he came off! The fact that he is once again truly loving football makes me very happy for him. It’s visible to you. How strong he is in confined quarters, and how amazing his first touch is.”
Gravenberch’s goal completed an impressive performance. Even while it wasn’t his finest performance to date, it was the climax his work deserved.
When Darwin Nuñez’s shot cannoned back off the post, the former Bayern Munich midfielder responded the fastest. Then, with incredible poise, he rounded the goalie and sent a left-footed shot into the bottom corner.
Although it was his only goal involvement of the game, he was crucial to the Reds’ goals two and three. He opened the scoring in both games with a thunderous run from midfield, bringing the ball into the final third and finding Curtis Jones with a pass. The 17th had made two attempts. The first one was redirected for a corner over the bar. Wataru Endo headed Liverpool back into the lead from this corner. Darwin Nunez was in the path of the second attempt, which was blocked but ricocheted back off the Scouser. The unruly Uruguayan struck a left-footed shot from a challenging angle into the net.
Even though he was unable to increase his assist total, he made an impression in this game.
After being replaced after 70 minutes, Gravenberch had four shots in the game’s conclusion, sharing the most with Darwin. Along with creating three chances, which only Jones (four) could surpass, he also completed 96% of his passes. Because of the nature of their position, opportunity creators frequently turn the ball over, which makes the last two statistics above very outstanding. They compel people to pass who may not be ready. Nevertheless, Gravenberch performed a challenging balancing act by moving the ball forward while holding onto it.
The deft Dutch player also made all 100 of his attempted dribbles, demonstrating his resilience to the press. The former Ajax sensation worked hard even when the ball wasn’t in play. He won two of his three dribbles, recovered the ball five times, and prevailed in six of his nine duels.
He was a touch too loose with the ball in his earlier Reds appearances. It affects how the team is balanced. The left-sided midfielder’s primary role had been to act as a facilitator. Gravenberch was anything but docile. He was exerting a lot of effort and mishandling the ball excessively, finishing only 70–80% of his passes.
On that side of the field, he would be the backup plan to the regular one if his performances had stayed steady. Someone you would bring into the game when you thought Liverpool would control the ball and were looking for more of a midfield goal threat.
However, he has demonstrated in his last two appearances that he can combine the two roles.
In the Merseyside derby against Everton, he made one chance, one effort, and 97% of his passes were completed. He made four efforts and produced three chances against Toulouse, as previously indicated, and found a teammate 96% of the time. He managed to maintain possession and still play a significant role in the last phase acts. The latter is crucial for a midfielder on a team that wants total control.
It’s really promising that he has already improved that aspect of his game in such a short period of time. Additionally, it provides Klopp with food for thought in the upcoming weeks as Jones returns from suspension.
Jones is capable of certain things that Gravenberch is not, and vice versa. However, what is currently more valuable to the Reds?
Observing it all play out will be fascinating. As the left-sided midfielder, Liverpool has two players who both have a strong case to start, and both have more to offer.