Ten Hag's relationship with Gravenberch revealed amid Bayern discontent
The Dutch youngster joined the German champions this summer from Ajax, with the Amsterdam side open to selling as he wasn’t willing to extend his contract at the club.
Bayern Munich ended up signing the player – one of two former Ajax players they signed this year, with Noussair Mazraoui being the other as he moved following the expiry of his contract.
There have recently been rumours suggesting Manchester United are monitoring the situation, with a view to a future move, and that would certainly be a sensible choice given Gravenberch’s history with Erik ten Hag.
Ten Hag gave Gravenberch his breakthrough
Gravenberch has been of interest to Manchester United for a very long time – dating back to his early days in football in 2020, but a firm move was never made.
The player even admitted there was interest, but he already had an agreement with Bayern Munich this summer and was unwilling to break his word amidst stories linking him with a move following Ten Hag’s appointment.
"Manchester United are a very big club, but I had a very good feeling with Bayern Munich and I had given my word,” Gravenberch said to De Telegraaf back in June, soon after completing his transfer to Germany.
Gravenberch has a strong relationship with Ten Hag – it was him that gave the youngster his senior professional debut at Ajax, having developed at the academy since 2010.
At the time in 2018, he became the youngest Ajax debutant of all time at 16 years and 130 days old, overtaking Clarence Seedorf’s record by 80 days.
He overtook Seedorf’s goalscoring record as well, becoming Ajax’s youngest ever goalscorer just three days later as he scored in a cup match against amateur side HVV Te Werve.
In time, Gravenberch was massively trusted by Ten Hag, frequently being selected for top matches in the Netherlands and in Europe, becoming the second-youngest player to play 100 matches for Ajax.
Ryan Gravenberch arrived at Ajax in 2010 when he was 8 years old, signed his first contract with the first team at the age of 16 and became the youngest player in the history of Ajax to make his official debut.— 𝐀𝐅𝐂 𝐀𝐉𝐀𝐗 💎 (@TheEuropeanLad) May 25, 2022
All the best in the rest of your career, Ryan ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ovRfHbcB1y
He was 19 years and 328 days old when he achieved that feat, just behind Matthijs de Ligt and just ahead of Christian Eriksen, the man he could be the long-term successor of at Manchester United.
Ten Hag even successfully managed the player during his tough spell of form in the middle of the 2021-22 season, helping him return to his best towards the end of that campaign, contributing to a title win.
The Red Devils do need to strengthen their midfield: their options are limited, squad is thin and while Eriksen has made a great start, he won’t be around forever, forcing the club to look at the long run.
Gravenberch’s attack-minded talent would be a suitable fit, while he’s also willing to contribute on the other side of the pitch, making him a worthwhile addition to the Manchester United squad, should they move for him.