Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders has heaped praise on midfielder Ryan Gravenberch after his hot start to life at Anfield.
The Reds paid around £35m to sign Gravenberch from Bayern Munich, where the Dutch midfielder managed just three Bundesliga starts in his first season, and have already seen him become a key part of the Liverpool starting lineup.
Initially tasked with proving himself in cup competitions, Gravenberch bagged two goals and an assist in three Europa League games and has now started Liverpool’s last two Premier League games as he continues to showcase the sort of form that excited so many during his time at Ajax.
Lijnders, taking the place of Jurgen Klopp for Tuesday’s press conference, was full of praise for the 21-year-old.
“We knew what he is capable of,” Lijnders said. “It is the Ryan Gravenberch of Ajax that we see now.
“I’m not sure what happened at Bayern, you cannot judge that, but each player with confidence and without confidence is a different player. Each player with game time or without game time is a different player. That’s how it is.
“That’s why the Carabao Cup is really important for us as well because we know this and we feel this: a player who doesn’t play doesn’t get confident. You can do whatever you want on the training pitch, but in the end that’s about it.
“Ryan in the final third, as an eight, is the one who slides, the one who still has overview, the one who has a first touch with his left or right to get out of a situation, out of proper pressure. He can keep the ball under high pressure and still find the passing option forward.
“He is a complete, complete eight with scoring and with attitude. It is the eight we searched for and the eight we got. We are thankful to our owners and our scouting and everyone who made it happen.
“It’s nice he is Dutch as well!”
Gravenberch has already racked up more goals and assists than he managed during his time in Germany, having formed an impressive midfield trio alongside fellow new signings Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister.
Liverpool are back in action on Wednesday when they face Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup fourth round. Gravenberch started against Leicester City last time out in this competition but his new-found status as a Premier League starter could see him rested this time around.