New Bayern Munich signing Ryan Gravenberch is regarded as one of the most complete young midfielders in the game. - © Imago
New Bayern Munich signing Ryan Gravenberch is regarded as one of the most complete young midfielders in the game. - © Imago

Ryan Gravenberch: Who is the Bayern Munich and Netherlands midfielder likened to Paul Pogba?


Bayern Munich have quite the player on their hands in Netherlands midfielder Ryan Gravenberch. profiles the Ajax youth product, who has been compared to peak Paul Pogba...

Ryan Gravenberch

Age: 21
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Central midfielder
Country: Netherlands (11 caps/ one goal)

Stats correct as of 1 September 2023

Key stats

Having joined the Ajax academy at the age of eight and scored on his first competitive start in the opening round of the 2018/19 Dutch Cup eight years later, Gravenberch became a major player on the senior scene at Ajax in 2020/21. The 6'2" midfielder won a domestic double in his first full season with the pros and was an integral part of the side that topped their UEFA Champions League group ahead of Sporting Lisbon, Borussia Dortmund and Besiktas the following campaign.

All told, Gravenberch turned out 103 times in all competitions for his boyhood club, registering 12 goals and 13 assists. He was among Ajax's top five most fouled players and for tackles won in 2021/22 as the record Dutch champions successfully defended their Eredivise crown. Capped at every youth level and a U17 UEFA Euro winner with the Netherlands in 2018, the rangy right footer won his first of 10 senior international caps to date in March 2021.

After earning a move to Bayern Munich ahead of the 2022/23 season, Gravenberch jostled for playing time in the talent-rich Bavarian team and certainly played his part in Bayern's dramatic title win - making 24 Bundesliga appearances and playing 71 minutes of the decisive 2-1 win in Cologne on the final matchday. He also made six Champions League appearances for Bayern.

Plays a bit like: Paul Pogba

Gravenberch was Team Zidane as a youth and has described himself as a "contortionist", but his former Ajax youth coach is perhaps closest to the mark in his comparison with France midfielder Pogba.

"Physically, I see Frank Rijkaard because he’s tall and very strong. But technically, I would say he's a better version of [Paul] Pogba in his best days at Juventus, in terms of his technique and his presence on the pitch," explained Brian Tevreden, who promoted a 12-year-old Gravenberch to the Ajax U15s. "He's very dominant like Pogba was, and that's what I see in Ryan."

A rangy central midfielder, Gravenberch (l.) is equal parts industrious and creative. - Imago

Did you know?

Gravenberch is from footballing stock. His parents played amateur football, while older brother Danzell currently plies his trade in the Dutch second tier with De Graafschap.

What they're saying

"Ryan will give our team a lot. He’s one of Europe’s best young players, has excellent technique, always finds solutions in tight space, is very dynamic and a goal threat." - Former Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic

"He has a lot of capabilities, especially in an attacking sense, but he understands hard work." - former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag, who handed Gravenberch his debut at 16

"He is the greatest talent in the Netherlands, the prototype of a complete player." - ex-Ajax forward Wim Kieft following Gravenberch's senior breakthrough