Football News

Ryan Gravenberch: Father issues advice on future for Ajax’s ‘better-than-Pogba’ wonderkid

By Ben Green

Published: 16:34, 4 May 2021

Ajax wonderkid Ryan Gravenberch has been offered some advice on his future by his father amid growing interest from across Europe.

Gravenberch, 18, has enjoyed an exceptional breakthrough campaign in Amsterdam and has been tipped to reach the very pinnacle of the sport.

Already capped thrice at international level with the Netherlands, the talented tyro has featured 44 times across all competitions for Ajax this term, playing an instrumental role in the heart of Erik ten Hag’s midfield as de Godenzonen sealed a domestic double.

Gravenberch broke Clarence Seedorf’s long-standing record as the youngest Ajax player to feature in the Eredivisie when he made his debut in September 2018, while this season, he has proven to be the heartbeat of the capital club’s play, completing the second-most passes of any player in the division (1783).

The teenager’s tempo-setting exploits have also culminated in him registering the most completed final-third passes of any player in the Dutch top flight this campaign (565), as well as the second-most touches (2549), leading to one or two covetous glances from across the continent.

However, Gravenberch’s father, Ryan Snr, has advised his son to ignore interest for the time being, instead getting his head down and focusing on becoming one of the best players at Ajax.

He told Ajax Showtime: “He has to take that last step at Ajax. He just has to and he hasn’t done that yet.

“I want him to fully mature at Ajax, so as far as I’m concerned he will just stay at Ajax.

“He has only played one full season now and that was of course quite good, but next season he will have to play even better.

“Then, despite his age, he really must be one of the key players, especially if he plays in the European Championship [with the Netherlands].

“Next season, he will not get away with it in the dressing room if he plays poorly several games in a row.

“I really think he should take a step at Ajax first. He has to climb in the hierarchy and stand up more for himself within the squad.

“I’m not going to push him to do that, that makes no sense to Ryan. But he also realises that. He also thinks it is best for him to stay at Ajax.”

‘Gravenberch a better version of Pogba’

Among those reportedly interested in the Dutch stripling are Premier League outfits Liverpool and Chelsea, and were either club to make a tangible approach for him, a former youth coach of the player believes they would be getting a better version of Paul Pogba.

Brian Tevreden, who coached Gravenberch at U15 level for Ajax, told Goal that the midfielder shares similar qualities to the Manchester United midfielder.

He said: “Physically, I see Frank [Rijkaard] in him from back in the day because he’s tall and very strong.

“But technically, I would say he’s a better version of Pogba in his best days at Juventus, in terms of his technique and his presence on the pitch.

“He’s very dominant like Pogba was, and that’s what I see in Ryan.”