Liverpool have been warned away from Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch after the player’s father advised him to stay with the Dutch club.
Gravenberch has been one of many names to be linked with Liverpool as a potential replacement for his compatriot Georginio Wijnaldum. Having risen to prominence with Ajax, the 18-year-old is attracting interest from all over Europe. And with Wijnaldum out of contract at Anfield, there could be a gap for them to fill.
Reports last month named him as a potential successor to the 30-year-old for Liverpool. He seems to have the appropriate qualities and has an inviting price tag. The three-cap Netherlands international could be available for €35m.
Liverpool have lots of areas they could need to invest in during the summer transfer window. But replacing Wijnaldum – unless he signs a new deal, for which time is running out – will be high on the agenda.
Their chances of landing Gravenberch to do so have taken a hit, though, after his father revealed staying with Ajax would be a preferential scenario rather than a transfer.
“He has to take that last step at Ajax. He just has to and he hasn’t done that yet,” Ryan Gravenberch senior told Ajax Showtime.
“I want him to fully mature at Ajax, so as far as I’m concerned he will just stay at Ajax.
“He has only played one full season now and that was of course quite good, but next season he will have to play even better.
“Then, despite his age, he really must be one of the key players, especially if he plays in the European Championship [with the Netherlands].
“Next season, he will not get away with it in the dressing room if he plays poorly several games in a row.
“I really think he should take a step at Ajax first. He has to climb in the hierarchy and stand up more for himself within the squad.
“I’m not going to push him to do that, that makes no sense to Ryan. But he also realizes that. He also thinks it is best for him to stay at Ajax.
“In my heart – and also in Ryan’s – he first continues to develop at Ajax before he takes a step higher.”
Liverpool told ideal Wijnaldum replacement
Should Gravenberch stick to his father’s advice, Liverpool will have to turn their attention elsewhere for the time being.
Florian Neuhaus appears to be one player firmly on their radar, but they have also been advised to look a little closer to home.
One of their former players recently named Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips as someone they could consider instead.
“You can know your job and not really know when you receive the ball how to play those penetrative passes,” Emile Heskey told Rousing The Kop of Phillips last month.
“Phillips has those passes. He has the dogged ability to get around the pitch and put in some tackles as well.
“He has every side of his game, whether you can get him is another thing.”