Gravenberch angers Koeman over decision to put Liverpool in front of Netherlands call-up

September 7 – Liverpool’s £35 million deadline-day signing Ryan Gravenberch has angered national team manager Ronald Koeman after announcing his intention to settle into his new club rather than travel for his country in the upcoming international break.

The 21-year-old was called up for the Netherlands Under-21s side for their upcoming round of U21 Euro Qualifiers against Moldova and North Macedonia.

His decision provoked the Dutch FA (KNVB) to release the following statement: “Ryan Gravenberch will not travel to Zeist this international match to join the Dutch Juniors.

“The Liverpool FC midfielder has indicated to KNVB coach Michael Reiziger that he wants to focus on his new club during the international match in September and will therefore not make himself available.”

The young Dutchman has 11 caps for the senior team but hasn’t played for the seniors since September 2022 – his move from Ajax to Bayern Munich left him without much playing time and no opportunity to earn his minutes.

He was not in line to receive any more caps during the current international window, but could have had the opportunity to get playing time under his belt with the most senior age-group side.

The national team snub angered Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman, who spoke critically of Gravenberch’s actions and warned the player of a lack of opportunities in the future.

Koeman said: “For Ryan Gravenberch, we are not happy with that. Nigel [De Jong] has also been in contact with him. You can make a step through good performances at the Dutch Juniors.”

Koeman compared the Gravenberch situation to Jeremie Frimpong, the Bayer Leverkusen wing-back, who had declined an invitation to join the U21 squad earlier and hasn’t found a place in the senior team’s roster since.

“We are not happy with cancellations at the Dutch Juniors, we believe that he should always be available. But within the KNVB we have said that he [Frimpong] is not available for this period.

“That is your duty as a player, to play for any team. You can see that [not being selected] as a kind of punishment.”

The Dutch U-21s face off against Moldova U-21s tomorrow evening, whilst the senior team prepare for a clash against Greece later today, which will likely feature Gravenberch’s new teammates Virgil Van Dijk and Cody Gakpo.

Gravenberch will hope the sacrifice in favour of his new club will pay off, as Liverpool face Wolves on matchday 5 of the Premier League season after the international break, where Gravenberch is expected to make his debut.

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