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Alphonso Davies ... as a Bayern Munich forward? (Analysis)

Canada men’s team coach John Herdman touts Davies’ qualities in attack

Alphonso Davies leaps in the air to celebrate his penalty goal, Curaçao v Canada
Alphoso Davies celebrates after tucking home his penalty against Curaçao
Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Canada’s 4-0 win over Curaçao on June 9th in the Concacaf Nations League was an international showcase for Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies. But while Davies plies his trade at left-back for the Bavarians, Canadian national team coach John Herdman deployed the superstar all across the attack.

“[Davies] is a once in a generation player (...) I think Alphonso can play as a 10, he can play as a 7, an 11, a wing-back,” said Herdman, as captured by Transfermarkt. “He’s just got that ability, he has speed and he has power and is very intelligent; a guy that is very committed to his craft.

Davies won and converted a penalty as a left-winger, notched a hockey assist from a corner, and finished a scintillating team goal from the right-wing — all in just 75 minutes.

He was even deployed in the 10 spot, dropping into the hole from either wing to serve as Canada’s creative outlet. For example, at the 2:15 mark in the CBS highlights, we see Canada building 3-2-5 with Davies collecting the pass out of defense:

“I think he can play in the front three for Bayern,” Herdman added. “I think a lot of people would like to see that shift. He was already playing a much higher position at the start of the year and I would love to see them play a front three with him. At least, he got that ability.”

Could this happen? Davies is already a highly attacking presence for the Bavarians, but is typically tasked with tracking all the way back in defense as well.

In a front three, his role would be different: and yet already, his role has evolved, if ever so slightly, under Julian Nagelsmann. One way this manifests is the frequency with which he pops up with touches inside the box, 2021/22 versus 2020/21 (via SofaScore):

Alphonso Davies heatmap comparison showing greater frequency of touches inside the box in the 2021 season compared to the 2020 season
Alphonso Davies heatmap comparison
sofascore.com

A move to the forward line might be the next step in that evolution. One stab at how that might look: a front line of Kingsley Coman, Sadio Mané, and Davies, with Thomas Müller and Jamal Musiala linking play from midfield. Incoming right-back Noussair Mazraoui would provide width, while a new left-back adds to defensive stability. In this scenario, Davies cuts in from the right, perhaps not so unlike one Arjen Robben.

This past season, Bayern hesitated to use his direct positional backup Omar Richards when Davies was unavailable. The club is now being linked to talented Stuttgart left-back Borna Sosa — who under other circumstances would be an unusual signing.

With the futures of Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry uncertain, could this be the sort of outside-the-box, forward-thinking move Bayern need to shore up multiple areas of their roster?