Ryan Gravenberch display was a reminder to every Liverpool fan watching

Ryan Gravenberch offered up a reminder to every watching Liverpool fan with his performance against Burnley on Boxing Day. The Dutchman was hit-and-miss, to say the least.

Ryan Gravenberch started for Liverpool at Burnley on Boxing Day as the Reds own 2-0 at Turf Moor. The team are now top of the Premier League - at least until Arsenal play on Thursday.

How much did Gravenberch contribute to that win? Not all that much. He was in and out of the game and struggled to make things happen.

Both Wataru Endo and Harvey Elliott - the other starting midfielders - created more chances than him. Perhaps most tellingly, Gravenberch was just less involved than most. His 41 touches, for instance, were far below Elliott's 55, a player who left the pitch at the same time as him.

In fact, Curtis Jones, who came on for Gravenberch, managed 25 in 24 minutes. Dominik Szoboszlai's 19 in 23 minutes was far above what the Dutchman put in.

And games like this are a reminder that Gravenberch is still actually a very young player. He's only 21, after all, and while the quality is there to offer flashes of class - a run shortly after the opener saw him come close to a wonderful goal - the fringes of the game are where you're more likely to find him.

Perhaps that's not just down to his age, either. Elliott doesn't have these problems and is at roughly the same stage of his career. Elliott, though, isn't a player in his very early 20s who is also adapting to life at a new club in a new country, though.


That idea - that Gravenberch is a player with quality but without the experience to use it properly - explains a lot of the underlying stats. In fact, his data this season is incredibly interesting with that in mind.

Gravenberch, for instance, is second at Liverpool this season for progressive carries. That's carrying the ball at least 10 yards forward while in the opposition half. He's also fourth for successful take-ons (dribbling past a player).

That's all great - but then comes the 'young player' stuff. Gravenberch is fourth for take-ons but Curtis Jones - who averages an almost identical number - has a far higher success rate (46% to 33%). Notably, Gravenberch 'leads' Liverpool in the number of times per 90 minutes he's tackled while trying to dribble past a player.

Similarly, while he's fantastic at carrying the ball, Gravenberch also leads Liverpool in miscontrolls. He miscontrols the ball over four times per 90 minutes. The next-highest midfielder is Wataru Endo at 1.67 times per 90.

It's an identical story with passing. Gravenberch is fourth at Liverpool for progressive passes, with Harvey Elliott the only midfielder beating him there. He's also fourth for completed passes into the penalty area - again, Elliott is the only midfielder above him (incredibly, Elliott averages 1.5 more passes in the area than any other Liverpool player).

But then you look at the 'consistency' stuff and again, Gravenberch looks like an incredibly young player. He has the best long-pass completion at the club but only because he literally attempts the fewest of any outfield player. That's a bizarre thing to see from a midfielder - and it gets stranger as absolutely everyone else attempts at least one per 90. The Dutchman is at 0.5.

So if a long pass is one over 30 yards, a medium pass is 15 to 30 yards. Again, Gravenberch is down at the bottom. He's not absolutely last here but still by far the lowest of any midfielder - six fewer attempts per 90 than the next lowest in Jones. And Jones's success rate is 92 per cent compared to Gravenberch's 86.

Is it a case of just sticking to safe, short passes? No. Gravenberch again has the lowest success rate over short distances of any midfielder. He completes 86.5 per cent of them. The only four players with lower are forwards and no other midfielder is below 90 per cent.


Gravenberch does a lot incredibly well for Liverpool. He's up there with the very best for buildup, getting involved in 3.54 shots per 90. That's above Darwin Nunez, Harvey Elliott, and Andy Robertson.

But he's also just remarkably inconsistent. Gravenberch makes more mistakes than anyone else at Liverpool, especially in midfield. He'll do a lot of good going forward, while also failing in possession more than most.

These would be incredibly worrying if Gravenberch wasn't 21 and in his first six months at Liverpool. The fact he cost £35m and came with a reputation perhaps led to unrealistic expectations from some.

What we're seeing, though, is someone showing all the traits of a very young, erratic, gifted player. If Liverpool stick with him and refine him, Jurgen Klopp and co. will turn Gravenberch into a star. Until then, it's about taking the good with the bad.

Data from Fbref.

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