One of the big stories surrounding Bayern Munich in the last week has been the club’s pursuit of Canadian winger Alphonso Davies. We here at Bavarian Football Works figured that the best way to increase everyone’s knowledge of what potential transfer Alphonso Davies will bring to Bayern was to speak to an expert.
I had the opportunity to speak with AtlantisB from our friends at fellow SB Nation site Eighty Six Forever to talk about the 17-year-old Canadian international. What makes this young Vancouver Whitecaps player ready for a club like Bayern? Let’s find out.
How ready is Davies for a transition to a top-5 European league?
At only 17-years-old (he turns 18 on November 2), Davies is ready for a move away from MLS. In fact, he was probably ready for a move at the beginning of this season. He will certainly make mistakes, and he is not going to be a regular starter immediately; few 18-year-olds are in Europe, especially on a stacked team like Bayern Munich. However, he has shown throughout his short career that he definitely rises to the challenge. At 15 years 6 months, he was the youngest player to score in the USL (a level down from MLS). Shortly after, he was the second youngest player/starter in MLS. Last year, he was the youngest goal-scorer for the Canadian National Team, was the CONCACAF Gold Cup Golden Boot winner, and the first male player born after 2000 to score in an international match. This season, he has been the best player on the pitch, for either team, in at least half of the Vancouver Whitecaps’ matches. Despite consistently being double and triple-teamed, he is 7th in MLS in assists this season and leads the league in dribbles.
With all of his professional accolades, the REAL reason he is ready for a transition (and why he will be successful) is because he is level-headed. He has never shown an ego, always been humble, hustles on every play, and is eager to learn and become better.
What parts of his game require the most work over the next 3-4 years to allow him to reach his potential?
This will sound biased, and I assure you it is not, but there is not a lot for him to improve on. He needs to just continue getting better incrementally. When he first played, he looked like a 15-year-old kid in an over-sized jersey. It actually looked quite amusing. In his two seasons, he has bulked up, doesn’t get pushed off the ball, and doesn’t flop. If he hits the ground, it is legitimate. He tracks back well. If he loses the ball, he is typically the first player back fighting to retrieve it. This season, he has been played as a left-back, left wing, central midfielder, and probably striker to some degree. He can play on both wings, although his natural position is on the left. He is very quick, but he doesn’t rely on his speed too much. That is, he has great ball-handling skills and doesn’t just rely on speed to get past defenders. It is why he leads MLS in dribbles, as he can take on defenders and get past them, often with relative ease.
If the plan is to play him as a wing-back, then he will need to improve his defending. It is good for a midfielder/winger, but not for a defender. If he is going to be played in a purely attacking role, then he needs to improve his shooting accuracy. If Bayern plans to utilize him as a winger, then he will need to get used to the increased speed of the game, which I think he can do, and be able to make decisions quicker. At the beginning of this season, the biggest critique I had of Davies was that he would get triple teamed and sometimes try to dribble through the entire team or fail to find the open teammate. However, in his last ten games or so, that has improved a lot. I feel this is very important, because it points to his ability to learn and accept coaching to make him a better player. Davies LOVES delivering assists to his teammates. He often does this by driving at defenders and then finding the open teammate for the easy goal. I feel this will translate well to Bundesliga, as he does not rely on the cross for his assists. He prefers the intricate plays more.
To which current Bundesliga player does Davies compare?
I watch half of Bayern Munich’s matches, but not many others. As a result, I had to ask externally which player he best compares to. Therefore, don’t quote me on this exactly. One person suggested that Leon Bailey’s dribble/speed skills are similar. Another said that Bundesliga scouts compare Davies to Arjen Robben (I can see that). Another suggested Kingsley Coman. Incredible speed, good skill, still a work in progress. Someone suggests Bruma with RB Leipzig. Athletic, skilled, quick. While Bruma is more of a finisher now, it was suggested that if you go back a few years, you will see parallels in style of play. Finally, one of our writers suggested EPL’s Ryan Sessegnon, with Fulham — keeping in mind that Davies would be a winger and not a fullback.
A 17-year-old Arjen Robben? Now that sounds intriguing. We will keep you posted as this transfer story develops.