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Ajax, Oranje, and PowerPoint Decks: Ryan Gravenberch’s move to Bayern Munich reveals the pitfalls of the transfer game for young players

Ryan Gravenberch’s transfer to Bayern Munich has caused issues for the youngster.

FC Bayern München v FC Barcelona: Group C - UEFA Champions League Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

On Sport1 journalist Kerry Hau’s “Die Bayern-Woche” podcast (as captured by @iMiaSanMia), the writer/podcaster broke down how the signals might have gotten crossed for Ryan Gravenberch when making his move from Ajax to Bayern Munich and why the young midfielder is so unhappy at the moment.

Let’s dive in.

Part #1

First, Hau revealed that Gravenberch made the decision to transfer to Bayern Munich because the club’s executives sold him on the possibility of starting next to Joshua Kimmich:

Ryan Gravenberch was very motivated when he joined Bayern. He made his choice because (Hasan) Salihamidžić and (Marco) Neppe told him they believe he will quickly secure a spot next to (Joshua) Kimmich in midfield and compete with Goretzka. Sabitzer was expected to be sold.

Brief BFW Analysis

Okay, that is a lot to unpack, so let’s do it bullet style:

  • Why would Salihamidžić imply that Gravenberch would be a starter within the same (relative) timeframe that he would be re-upping both Kimmich and Leon Goretzka? Moving ahead of Sabitzer is understandable because many felt he would be sold, but he still had a strong track record of success barring his performance last season.
  • If true, it sounds like the Bayern Munich execs might have oversold Gravenberch a bit on what his possibilities for being a starter might be. Moreover, if I am Goretzka, I’d probably be ticked about how quickly Bayern Munich was looking to send me to the bench.
  • Is Bayern Munich so down on Goretzka that they brought in a 20-year-old to immediately replace him?
  • Man...Sabitzer had really dug himself a hole last season, eh?

Part #2

Hau went on to say that the Dutchman is becoming frustrated with the lack of playing time not just because he’s sitting on the bench with Bayern Munich, but because it could cost him a chance at a roster spot for the World Cup:

With Sabitzer and Goretzka now ahead of him, Gravenberch is growing frustrated with his lack of playing time, despite a good preseason and good performance in his only start in the Pokal. His big dream is to go to the World Cup, which is now at risk

Brief BFW Analysis

  • Gravenberch should be concerned with his World Cup position after being left initially out of the senior squad for this international set of UEFA Nations League matches. Gravenberch was promoted on Friday after injuries hit the Dutch team.
  • What is Salihamidžić putting in his PowerPoint decks to convince players not to just look at Bayern Munich’s roster and do the math in their own head? Some of the blame here is on Gravenberch himself.

Part #3

So this part...this is probably tough for Gravenberch to stomach. Per Hau, Gravenberch would have been a starter under his old coach, Erik ten Hag, at Manchester United if he had made the move to England instead of to Germany — but, Gravenberch believed what he was told by Bayern Munich and bypassed the opportunity:

Manchester United were very interested in Gravenberch. Erik ten Hag asked him to reconsider his choice as he would immediately be a starter in Manchester. The player, however, insisted on joining Bayern because he was convinced with the plan presented to him.

Brief BFW Analysis

There are a few of ways to look at this...

  • First, did Bayern Munich oversell Gravenberch on how he might fit in and how quickly he would become a starter? Or...
  • Did Gravenberch overestimate his ability to just walk on to Säbener Straße and become a starter immediately? Or...
  • Is Gravenberch just simply not better than Kimmich, Goretzka, or Sabitzer at this stage?
  • It appears that the only way that Gravenberch was going to be happy was to be a starter — and that does not seem likely at this stage. If that is the case, the blame should be shared among everyone involved — including the player.

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