Bayern Munich have broken the record paid for a Major League Soccer player by snapping up Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Alphonso Davies for a reported €13 million, which could rise to €19 million with performance related add-ons. . The 17-year-old has had a meteoric rise from very humble beginnings, and the German giants believe he can become the “next big thing”.
Born in a refugee camp in Ghana after his parents fled civil war in Liberia, Davies’ family moved to Canada when he was five-years-old, settling first in Windsor, Ontario then Edmonton, Alberta. His footballing ability was discovered while he was playing in the youth teams of Edmonton Internationals and Edmonton Strikers. In 2016, he became the youngest player ever to sign a United Soccer League (USL) contract, joining Whitecaps FC 2 aged just 15 years and 3 months.
The teenager made his MLS debut in July 2016, making him the second-youngest player to ever play in MLS (after Freddy Adu). His first goal came in September 2016 when he scored a late winner against Sporting Kansas City in CONCACAF Champions League.
With Davies having since become Vancouver’s best player, European interest was bound to surface. Manchester United was among the bigger clubs showing interest. Bayern, however, have stolen a march on their European rivals by announcing the signing of the teenage prodigy.
Davies will remain with the Whitecaps until the end of the current MLS season and move to Bavaria in January, when he will be 18.
Adu Mark II?
So just how good is Alphonso Davies? What are his chances of succeeding in Munich?
There will, of course, be comparisons with Freddy Adu, who burst onto the North American scene at a tender age, was earmarked for greatness, earned a big-money move to Europe, and then flopped. Bayern will be hoping Davies bucks that trend. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Bayern legend and current Chicago Fire star, certainly believes the youngster has what it takes to prosper.
“You can see he has speed, he has skills,” says Schweinsteiger. “Offensively, transition-wise, he’s very good. He has potential with that speed, with that technique, with those skills. If he works hard, also for the defence, of course he can go on to play in Europe.”
For a 17-year-old, Davies shows great maturity and composure operating mainly as a left-winger, but is also able to play more centrally. He shows great vision, is direct with his running, and controls the ball superbly. In tight spaces, he’s capable of escaping close marking and has the ability to produce something from nothing. The goal he scored against DC United two weeks ago sums this up superbly.
With Bayern’s infamous Franck Ribéry-Arjen Robben wing partnership reaching the end of its lifetime, the hunt for their heirs is on. Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman are the current options, with Leon Bailey potentially earmarked as a future arrival. Yes, he’s incredibly young, but could Alphonso Davies be a credible option?
The old adage says that ‘if you are good enough, then you are old enough’ when it comes to teenage stars being given the chance to shine on the big stage. For Freddy Adu, that proved a false dawn, but Bayern Munich certainly believe they have the real deal in Alphonso Davies.
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