Man United news: Ryan Gravenberch shines for Ajax in Champions League clash with Liverpool

Gravenberch

There are few better ways to cement your candidacy for a position at Manchester United than with a glowing display against Liverpool. 

Not only are the Merseyside outfit United's fiercest historic rival, they're also one of the best sides in world football: a standout performance against such a high calibre outfit would bolster any players' desirability and market value. 

On Tuesday night, Ajax wonderkid Ryan Gravenberch, who has been linked with a move to Old Trafford on several occasions, passed his Anfield litmus test with unnerving ease. 

This was a top drawer display from a highly inexperienced player who boasted the awareness of a player ten years his senior. Any sign of naivety or nervousness was absent. He's been mooted as the real deal, and the 18-year-old has even been compared to Paul Pogba and Frank Rijkaard.

Gravenberch, though, believes his style bears resemblance to another heralded icon of the game: "My example is Zinedine Zidane". 

While that brazen statement may allude to a potentially brash level of self-confidence, there were shades of expression in his performance on Tuesday to vindicate his own hefty comparison. 

Players of Gravenberch's ethereal quality need to be watched to be fully understood, but the statistics also make for auspicious reading. 

Gravenberch

No Ajax player who was selected in Erik Ten Haag's starting XI managed to record a higher pass completion rate than Gravenberch (90%) on the night, while only Daley Blind (90) had more than his 86 touches. 

Though he is a holding midfielder by nature, a balanced, all-seeing metronome, the Ajax academy product proved he is capable of blending his defensive responsibilities with a more dynamic, forward-thinking approach. 

Gravenberch completed four dribbles throughout proceedings, which was three more than any other Ajax player and more than Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Diogo Jota managed combined. Statistics of this magnitude require little elaboration.

Any prevailing doubts about the enormity of this generational talent were emphatically quashed in a pulsating 90 minutes of football.  

On the evidence of this display, it was easy to see why he finished 15th in the 2020 Golden Boy awards, trailing in the wake of some of the most enchanting talent the game has to offer as Erling Haaland took top spot.

Haaland

If reports crediting Man United with interest are to be believed, then there's no doubt he'll be firmly at the forefront of Ed Woodward's mind ahead of the upcoming transfer windows. 

For all of the improvements Fred has made since arriving from Shakhtar Donetsk, and despite Scott McTominay's consistently commendable all-action performances, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's midfield is still missing a game changing layer of panache, that slice of star quality to truly connect the various dots together. 

The budding Netherlands international is still incredibly young but the potential is there for all to see, and he's a player who will no doubt be on the radar of Europe's behemoths clubs by now.  

Regardless of where his future lies, all the signs are pointing in one direction for Gravenberch's boundless career prospects. 

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