Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies has quickly burst onto the scene as one of Europe’s most promising young talents and arguably one of the world’s best left backs. When he came to Bavaria from the Vancouver Whitecaps, he was a record transfer fee from the MLS at $13.5 million in he summer of 2018. The initial plan for Davies at Bayern was to spend most of his time with the reserve team before he began integrating into the senior team, but he burst into the squad a lot sooner that he probably would’ve anticipated.
In a recent interview with The Independent, the Canadian international recalled his quick rise to prominence in Bayern’s senior squad and how beneficial it was for him to play alongside and continuously learn from David Alaba. It was in the 2019/2020 season before Niko Kovac was sacked that Davies was thrust into the starting lineup, first for Bayern’s 2-1 win over Union Berlin in the Hinrunde of that season.
Davies’ role in the starting lineup was largely aided by an injury to Alaba, who normally deputized as the starting left-back. Describing that time period, he said, “it all turned. When David (Alaba) got injured and they needed a left-back, so the coach (Kovač) looked at me and said ‘I know you can play there, and we believe you can play there with your pace and your ability’ so he put me in there. At the time, when I played left-back with Vancouver – and with Canada for a little bit – my main objective was to get forward as much as possible, but here you have to pick and choose your moment to get forward. I had to work out the right time to get forward and the right time to stay back.”
His continued to impress with his performances that season, especially after Kovac was replaced by Hansi Flick in November of 2019. When Alaba returned from injury, he was slotted into the center-back position, which meant Davies kept his spot at left-back. Being able to play alongside Alaba and learn from him, Davies said, was highly beneficial for his overall development and progression at Bayern. “When David came back he was playing center-back, and having one of the best left-backs beside you while you’re playing his position was amazing. I’m doing well there and I’m excited to play more games as a left-back,” he explained.
After football resumed having been paused for two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Geisterspiele format of matches meant that players could hear and communicate with one another much more clearly since there wasn’t any crowd noise in grounds. Having this shift and lack of fan noise has helped Alaba directly communicate with Davies on the pitch, which is something “Phonzie” is highly grateful for, despite missing the presence of fans. “He [Alaba] gives me a lot of information, and he tells me sometimes that with my experience I can lose a bit of focus. He makes sure I’m in the game. Communication’s key and I’m happy he’s constantly talking to me on the pitch. When I see the space I attack it, and now I just try to follow through on my actions. The worst as a full-back is when you lose the ball and then have to run all the way back.”
After this summer, Davies will have to continue to develop his craft without Alaba, as he’ll be leaving for Real Madrid after the season concludes. He’ll also be switching from having Flick as his manager to RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann, who takes charge of the club as of July 1st. This will be the third manager Davies has played for in a short space of time, but there’s absolutely no reason to believe he won’t carry on in the same, impressive vein.