Ryan Gravenberch earned a deserved standing ovation from the Anfield faithful after putting in the exact kind of midfield general performance Liverpool fans would have expected to see from Jude Bellingham had they been successful in their pursuit of the Englishman in the summer.
It wasn’t meant to be with the now Real Madrid powerhouse, though Forbes‘ Graham Ruthven was nonetheless keen to point out that the Reds may have still ended up with a ‘complete’ midfielder regardless.
“Liverpool have desired a complete midfielder like Gravenberch for years,” the contributor wrote.
“They were consistently linked with Jude Bellingham before he joined Real Madrid and Gravenberch is similar in profile to the England international. He is a box-to-box operator who can contribute on both the attacking and defensive sides of the ball.”
Ruthven went on to add: “Sitting fourth in the Premier League table, Liverpool are once again the best quick-transition team in the division and Gravenberch is a good fit for this style of play.
“The 21-year-old is technically able with the ball at his feet and has the physical attributes to succeed in a Klopp team. He is perfect for Liverpool.”
The Dutchman combined defensive nous with barnstorming offensive prowess, winning most of his duels and acting as a creative outlet. Most impressively, the 21-year-old crafted chances entirely single-handedly on multiple occasions with his runs toward the opposition box.
Updated stats [70 mins played] from Toulouse clash
— Farrell Keeling (@farrellkeeling) October 26, 2023
The really good news is that there’s still plenty left to come from our latest summer signing – a point Jurgen Klopp was more than keen to make after the 5-1 victory over Toulouse in the Europa League.
“I’m so happy for him that he starts really enjoying his football again. His first touch is incredible, his acceleration with the ball,” the 56-year-old told TNT Sports (via the Standard). “He’s not even half way there. The good thing is that he has a lot of things to improve.”
The German tactician was spot on to point out a clear difference in a player that, whilst perhaps not moping about in Bavaria, was underappreciated by Thomas Tuchel.
Here at Liverpool, Gravenberch is playing like a man with the shackles off, importantly with a manager behind him who believes he has all the qualities necessary to be an integral player for the club for the next decade or so.
His last appearance in the league against Everton may have been his first start in English top-flight football – but it sure as hell won’t be his last after another top-class performance in the first-XI.