Erik ten Hag knows Thiago heir as star ‘very interested’ in Liverpool transfer after bad promise

Liverpool could find an heir to Thiago by listening to Erik ten Hag, with the star in question now ‘very interested’ in an Anfield transfer after broken promises.

Following a summer of rumors, Liverpool acquired Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago three years ago. The Reds agreed to pay a starting price of $25 million (£20 million/€23 million), with a potential increase to $31 million (£25 million/€28 million).

A player made the opposite move twelve months later when Sadio Mané requested a transfer to Germany for $44 million (£35 million/€40 million). And now, as they chase another Bayern midfielder, this time one who is in a completely different situation, the Reds may be about to reopen the channels of contact.


Ryan Gravenberch, who joined Liverpool at the age of 20, is only nine years younger than Thiago. While the latter was the culmination of his professional career, he is still in its early phases.

While Thiago was a key member of the Bavarians’ Champions League winning team, Gravenberch is far down the pecking order and had just three Bundesliga starts in his first campaign.

And finally, Gravenberch still has four years left on a long-term contract, whereas Thiago had one year left on his contract and was offered for a reduced price.

That hasn’t stopped Liverpool from looking for a move, though. The Athletic claims that Anfield representatives had ‘good’ meetings with the player’s father earlier in April.

According to Sport 1 lead reporter Kerry Hau in an interview with The Redmen TV, Gravenberch is thought to be amenable to the move.

“I am aware that they spoke to his team in February, and he is keen to join Liverpool and play in the Premier League. It is an urge.

Despite the fact that this is a fascinating insight, the player has long seemed eager to go. The key issue is still whether Bayern Munich will change its approach. The current German champion is adamant that he won’t be moved; Hau adds that if Thomas Tuchel makes it clear that he plans to rely on Gravenberch, it’s “possible” that he stays.

The question is whether Gravenberch would believe that. He was admittedly sold a false vision when he joined Bayern Munich under the previous administration, at least according to Hau:

“He joined Bayern last year because they assured him that he would already be a competent starter. starting games and gaining confidence will give you the chance to travel to the World Cup with the Netherlands. He ultimately chose not to play.

So where would he fit in at Anfield if he were to successfully push for a move? He hasn’t played much since his transfer, so it’s worth going back at his time at Ajax for hints.

He spent most of his final season in Amsterdam playing behind a number 10 in a midfield two with Edson Lvarez, but manager Erik ten Hag also occasionally used him on the left side of a three.

This presents Jürgen Klopp with new opportunities. Gravenberch’s profile resembles that of Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, according to FBRef, suggesting he might fill the right-sided number eight position that appeared to be targeted for the Englishman before Liverpool withdrew from the competition.

But might he also stand in for Thiago? A lot of on-ball characteristics are interestingly shared by the pair, who both specialize in left-sided number six/number eight roles.

Both have the ability to create openings from midfield. Last season, Gravenberch was among the top 10 players in the Eredivisie for projected assists (7.1) and shot-creating actions (118), and in 2020–21, he was the division’s undisputed leader in progressive passes.

He possesses the technical skills required to defeat a man, just like Thiago. In his final season in the Netherlands, only five players recorded more successful take-ons (64) than Gravenberch.

Ball carrying is one of his other distinguishing qualities, and while we might not necessarily link that with the Thiago who plays for Liverpool, the former Barcelona player did well in that area during his prime. Just as Gravenberch accomplished in his final two seasons under Ten Hag at Ajax, he cracked the top 10 in the Bundesliga for progressive carrying distance in 2018–19.

The young player hasn’t been as busy with the ball as his future teammate, but since he’s played in a midfield two, it’s not as if defensive duties are foreign to him.

While Ten Hag tended to focus on his attacking strengths during his stint at Ajax — like his ‘dribbling’, ‘tremendous passing ability’ and contribution in build-up play — he also pointed out that he can ‘win balls’ and ‘understands hard work’

There’s certainly enough reason to feel confident that Gravenberch can be an effective off-ball presence. Because he’s so young and has already displayed positional versatility, Klopp would be able to mold him as he sees fit.

Ball carrying is one of his other distinguishing qualities, and while we might not necessarily link that with the Thiago who plays for Liverpool, the former Barcelona player did well in that area during his prime. Just as Gravenberch accomplished in his final two seasons under Ten Hag at Ajax, he cracked the top 10 in the Bundesliga for progressive carrying distance in 2018–19.

The young player hasn’t been as busy with the ball as his future teammate, but since he’s played in a midfield two, it’s not as if defensive duties are foreign to him.

Compatriot Cody Gakpo joined the team as a left winger, but it appears that his boss intends to mold him into Roberto Firmino’s false-nine replacement. Few people anticipated the strategy, but it is already beginning to pay dividends.

Gravenberch might be transformed into a surprise Thiago heir in a similar manner, providing much of the same advantages without being an identical duplicate. Ten Hag is well-versed in it.

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