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Liverpool star told to change position to emulate Man City and Arsenal legends

Ryan Gravenberch in training with Liverpool
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


Liverpool star Ryan Gravenberch has been told he should change positions and become a defensive midfielder under new manager Arne Slot. Former Tottenham Hotspur and Netherlands star Rafael Van Der Vaart believes a new role could see him make a much bigger impact at Anfield.

Gravenberch was signed from Bayern Munich last summer but struggled to nail down a regular place in the starting XI. However, Van Der Vaart feels a tweak in his position could change that as a new manager arrives at Anfield.

He pointed to fellow Dutchman Nigel De Jong, one of the heroes of Manchester City’s first Premier League title-winning side, and Arsenal Invincibles legend Patrick Vieira as two examples for Gravenberch and Liverpool to follow.

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Speaking to Dutch outlet Voetbal International, Van Der Vaart explained: “I advise Ryan to opt for a role as a defensive midfielder.

“That will not be an easy choice for him, because he can do much more. You can compare it with Nigel de Jong in the past.

“Nigel could do much more than the subservient controller he eventually became. But in that specific role he reached an absolute top level. Nigel decided he was going to be a pit bull and that’s it.

“Ryan is also very versatile and I recommend him to make a similar choice. In a role like Patrick Vieira once played at Arsenal and France.”

Gravenberch, who has been named in the Netherlands squad for Euro 2024 alongside teammates Virgil van Dijk and Cody Gakpo, recently linked up with his national team ahead of the tournament. He was briefly asked about Slot’s arrival at Liverpool and highlighted his belief that it will be good news for his own career at Anfield.

"I think he can be good for my career," he said. "It's a coach who wants to play good football.”

liverpool.com says: Gravenberch played in a more box-to-box role at Ajax and hasn’t yet carved out a role of his own at Liverpool. But the arrival of Slot is a fresh start, and a more defensive position could potentially be an intriguing concept to explore.

He has plenty of tactical, technical and physical attributes and there’s no doubt there is a real player in there. If he could get close to the levels of De Jong or Vieira, then Liverpool would be delighted with his contribution.

With midfield still an area highlighted as a weakness by many Liverpool fans despite last summer’s overhaul, Gravenberch finding a big step forward would be a massive boost regardless of what exact role that manifests itself.