clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Is Bayern Munich’s Ryan Gravenberch a problem child?

This is a bad look for the Dutchman.

FC Bayern München v Viktoria Plzen: Group C - UEFA Champions League Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

As the dirty laundry continues to flow from within the walls at Säbener Straße, Sport1’s Kerry Hau has detailed the ever-growing divide that was expanding between former coach Julian Nagelsmann and midfielder Ryan Gravenberch.

According to Hau’s report (as captured by @iMiaSanMia), the young Dutchman and the coach were at odds for what seems like most of the season. For Nagelsmann, it was Gravenberch’s lack of commitment to playing defense — which explains why the coaching staff had recently determined that Gravenberch is more of a No. 10 than a No. 6 or a No. 8. For Gravenerbch, it was the lack of opportunity to prove himself.

The issue seemed to hit an apex against FC Viktoria Plzeň in the Champions League when Gravenberch was brought on and contributed to the team allowing two goals:

Ryan Gravenberch did not get along with Julian Nagelsmann at all. Nagelsmann was particularly bothered by Gravenberch’s lack of defensive work. In the game against Plzen when Bayern conceded two after Gravenberch came on, he was considered responsible by the staff.

It got worse in January as well, as Nagelsmann did not like Gravenberch’s effort in a friendly against Red Bull Salzburg and called him out in front of the squad in the locker room:

In the January friendly against Salzburg, Gravenberch was supposed to get 90 minutes, but was subbed off at the break because, according to Nagelsmann, he was jogging back in some of Salzburg’s attacks. Nagelsmann singled out Gravenberch in the dressing room in front of the whole team.

As expected, the crux of the issue — which seemingly caused Gravenberch to act so immaturely — came down to promises made about playing time:

In the talks before his transfer, Bayern had promised Gravenberch to get enough game time in his first season and expected Nagelsmann to stick to it, that’s why Gravenberch rejected United. However, the coach was never really convinced, which frustrated the Dutchman.

All of this has led Gravenberch to consider leaving the club:

Gravenberch himself is said to have internally mentioned the idea of leaving the club, but Hasan Salihamidžić quickly made it clear the Dutchman would definitely not leave in the summer. Now that Nagelsmann is gone, Gravenberch wants to take his chance under Thomas Tuchel. But if the situation doesn’t change, a move in the summer remains a conceivable option for him. Liverpool are interested.

BFW Analysis

(Flame thrower alert)

However you feel about Nagelsmann, Gravenberch comes across as a petulant child in Hau’s report. After going to the media twice about his lack of a role on the team during the fall, Gravenberch’s decision was to dog it during his opportunities to prove himself after the re-start.

If you want to toss blame around, here are the eligible parties:

  • Gravenberch: Instead of acting like a professional and fighting for more time, he sulked, complained to the media (twice !?), and did not perform when called upon. For the legions of Bayern Munich fans who have blindly backed the Dutchman, this does not support the assertions that the kid has come in, been a team player, and worked hard to establish himself.
  • Sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidžić: Perhaps his PowerPoint oversold things to Gravenberch? It was always unclear how the Dutchman was ever going to play any type of major role this season (and probably next season, too), If so, the sporting director deserves some blame and will risk his reputation if issues like this become more prevalent.
  • Gravenberch’s agent: Realistically, did they think he was going to leap over Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Marcel Sabitzer, Thomas Müller, Jamal Musiala, and Leroy Sané to play any of the midfield (defensive, central, or attacking) positions? If so, a reality check was needed.

The one person not at blame in any of this is Nagelsmann, who just assessed Gravenberch’s game and came to the conclusion that he was not good enough...yet. Right or wrong, Nagelsmann determined that Gravenberch was not performing up the expected standard and gave him playing time in accordance with that.

In summary, if this is how Gravenberch handles “adversity”, there should only be one message: Don’t the door hit you in the back side, pal.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bavarian Football Works Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Bayern Munich news from Bavarian Football Works