In images | The Ajax years of Ryan Gravenberch

Uitzwaaien Gravenberch 1280
Uitzwaaien Gravenberch 1280

With his transfer to Bayern Munich, Ryan Gravenberch ends a 12-year-tenure at Ajax. From shining at the youth stage to scoring in the Champions League: these are his Ajax years.

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Aged eight years old, little Ryan takes his chance and swaps the academy of Amsterdam based Zeeburgia for Ajax. He comes into a team with players he is about to play years with. Familiar names then and now are Brian Brobbey and Kenneth Taylor. Gravenberch is according to his coaches a great talent and comes through the ranks fairly easy.

He’s developing well and after winning the ABN AMRO Future Cup and making his debut in the UEFA Youth League, he is crowned Best Talent of de Toekomst in 2018. 

The first winner of the Abdelhak Nouri Trophy is adjusting quickly to his status and the season after, Gravenberch makes his official debut for the first team. Erik ten Hag uses him as a substitution in the away game versus PSV. With 16 years and 130 days he is now the youngest ever debutant to feature for Ajax.

Time goes by before his first starting spot in Ajax 1. Just before Christmas 2019, Gravenberch gets the opportunity to play from the start in Ajax’s home game against ADO Den Haag. As many other famous Ajax players in the past, he scores during his first start in a league game for the club.

From there on, it goes fast. Gravenberch gets more and more minutes during the 2020/21 season his definite breakthrough follows. He plays 47 games for the first team, of which 32 in the Eredivisie and six in the UEFA Champions League. He shows himself at the big stage with a good performance at Anfield and his first Champions League goal versus FC Midtjylland in the Johan Cruijff ArenA. Later that season, he also scores in the Cup final versus Vitesse and wins his second league title.

To give Gravenberch credit for his good performances and development, fans name him Talent of the Year. It's the sign for even better things the season after. Gravenberch makes his debut for the national team and scores his first international goal a few months later in a friendly versus Georgia.

The midfielder keeps playing well and develops himself into a stronghold for Ten Hag. His playing style helps Ajax to break down deep defenses and in defensive transition he has the physical presence to help pressuring opponents and regain possession. Gravenberch even scores a vital goal in the away game versus sc Cambuur. In the final minutes of the game, Ajax gets away with a late 2-3 win. Thanks to an amazing strike of Gravenberch himself. 

Gravenberch plays his 100th official Ajax match in the home game against Sparta Rotterdam. It's one of his last matches in Ajax colours. He leaves the club where he grew up as a diamond with loads of room to grow. From the academy to the club's first team to winner of three Eredivisie titles, two KNVB Cups and one Johan Cruyff Shield.

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