Ryan Gravenberch: Bayern Munich Want $38.5 Million-Rated Midfielder To Finally Replace Thiago

Ryan Gravenberch has been heavily linked with a move to Bayern Munich. First reported by the Dutch paper Algemeen Dagblad, Bayern is interested in signing the 19-year-old Ajax midfielder. Gravenberch is currently under contract until 2023 and has a Transfermarkt market value of $38.5 million

De Telegraaf, in the meantime, reported that Ajax would be willing to sell the midfielder for a price between $27.5 million and $33 million—just below his current market value. Generating transfer fees is a significant part of the Ajax model. The club is losing Noussair Mazraoui and André Onana on free transfers this upcoming summer, which means one talent will have to be sold. 

Bayern Munich, at first glance, is in no need to add a central midfielder. In Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Corentin Tolisso, and Marcel Sabitzer, the club has four players for the double-pivot. Goretzka’s injury in recent weeks, however, has exposed the club’s weakness in central midfield. Neither Tolisso nor Sabitzer, who was signed in the summer from RB Leipzig, have been able to replace Goretzka. 

Furthermore, Bayern has never been able to find a proper replacement for Spanish midfielder Thiago. Thiago left the club Liverpool after the club’s Champions League win in the summer of 2020. 

Although Kimmich and Goretzka have developed into one of the most dominant double-pivot pairings in European football, Thiago’s absence has been felt. In an almost desperate move, a report earlier this week even suggested that the coaching staff around head coach Julian Nagelsmann are exploring the possibility of turning super talent Jamal Musiala into a Thiago-esque deep-lying playmaker. 

Musiala is undoubtedly talented, and one could envision him playing several positions going forward. But the 18-year-old will more likely replace Thomas Müller further up the pitch than becoming a Thiago-like player. That, in turn, could explain why Bayern Munich might be interested in bringing in a central midfielder like Gravenberch. 

But what about Gravenberch? Could he be the player to finally replace Thiago? Soccerment, the publisher of the Wonderkids 2021 Outlook, used an algorithm to determine an 82% similarity between Gravenberch and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba. 

Gravenberch’s biggest strengths, according to Soccerment, are passing and dribbling. Furthermore, ever since Louis van Gaal worked at the club, Bayern’s tactical philosophy has been similar to Ajax. Before Nagelsmann started experimenting with the 3-4-3 system this season, Bayern has predominately used a 4-3-3 possession system. 

The 19-year-old would, therefore, walk into a club and dressing room that is not too dissimilar to Ajax. But how does Gravenberch compare to Thiago? The Spaniard plays 13.01 passes to the final third per 90 minutes, Gravenberch just 7.42. Thiago has 11.01 recoveries per 90 minutes and Gravenberch just 7.03. 

There are, however, some positive numbers. One aspect that made Thiago one of the most valuable players in the Bundesliga was his dribble rate per 90 minutes. This season Gravenberch has had more dribbles (4.68 vs. 2.03) per 90 minutes than Thiago. Gravenberch also had more attacking actions per 90 minutes (4.27 vs. 2.1). 

One has to keep in mind that Thiago is not at his Bayern Munich prime at Liverpool at the moment. But the naked numbers still reveal that Gravenberch could add some of the attributes to the Rekordmeister’s game that have been lacking since they lost the Spaniard to Liverpool. Either way, Bayern needs to add a player in midfield, and Gravenberch could be a player that could fill an important role but also fits the club’s budget. 

HEY! Could we ask you for a favor? Would you share this article with your friends? It costs you nothing and it takes just a second, but means the world to us. Thanks a lot!