When the Netherlands enjoyed a 2-0 Nations League win over Poland in midweek, Bayern Munich midfielder Ryan Gravenberch was not part of the squad as he had ‘only’ been selected for the U-21 side to face Belgium. A lack of playing time in the Bundesliga this season has cost him his place and puts his World Cup hopes in jeopardy.
The player has not hidden his frustration and despite being a newcomer to the club has publicly spoken out about his unsatisfactory situation. When asked by ESPN if he was disappointed by his lack of playing time, Gravenberch did not hold back.
“Honestly, yes, I am. You want to play, but the manager picks other players. I have no regrets with joining Bayern. I have to accept it but it’s difficult. I was hoping for more minutes, but I have to stay calm. Maybe the manager will give me more minutes after the international break.”
He has settled in well in Bavaria and has former Ajax teammates in the squad, but the fact he is not playing is far from ideal. “I spend most of my time at Bayern with Matthijs de Ligt and Mazraoui, we are often together. Who else? I have to say that Thomas Müller is really someone who brings great atmosphere to the team,” Gravenberch explained.
Following his €18.5 million move from Ajax, the highly rated 20-year-old has not made a single league start for Bayern and has been limited to a total of just 110 minutes of appearances from the bench. In the Dutch Eredivisie last season, he appeared in 30 of Ajax’s 34 matches- 26 of them as a starter.
Is Gravenberch right to vent his frustration?
The fact is that Bayern are spoilt for choice in the midfield area and Gravenberch has to accept his position as the fourth-choice option for Julian Nagelsmann. Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka are nailed-on as the first-choice pairing, with Austrian Marcel Sabitzer really impressing when filling in for the injured Goretzka in the early part of the season. Bayern were winning, so the question was, why change a winning formula?
Nagelsmann has started to rotate his squad a little, but the double pivot in the 4-2-3-1 formation has only been rotated so far amongst Kimmich, Goretzka and Sabitzer.
On the other hand, if Gravenberch was sold a different perspective by Hasan Salihamidzic when being courted by Bayern then perhaps he has a case. It is very much doubtful that that the Bayern sporting director lured the Dutch midfielder to the club with the promise of a regular place on the bench and little chance of starting (unless in the DFB Pokal early rounds). What was promised is not known, but perhaps Gravenberch’s frustration comes from a feeling that he was somewhat misled.
Sounding off in public is never going to go down well amongst the Bayern bosses- especially from a newly arrived player. Gravenberch will have to show patience, but if that patience comes at the expense of a Dutch World Cup spot and splinters from sitting on the substitutes bench, then that patience will soon run out and turn to frustration.