We’ve been saying it for months now. At least once a week, the obligatory “Alphonso Davies is starting for Bayern Munich!!” tweets go out, to the point that it’s no longer that big of a story.
But it’s worth repeating every single time. A Canadian teenager is one of the most exciting players in Europe right now.
On Tuesday, Davies played 90 minutes against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League, nabbing his second assist of the tournament and an 8.6 WhoScored rating in Bayern’s 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
Davies is one of the best U-21 players in the world right now; he was WhoScored’s top-rated youngster for the entire Champions League group stage. More than that, he was the fourth-rated player, period.
“But he’s not a left-back,” right?
Think about it for a second. When, in living memory, has a Canadian player — one who plays for Canada, sorry Owen Hargreaves — ever been a recognizable star across the wide world of football?
Besiktas’ Atiba Hutchinson is a club legend in Turkey, and Milan Borjan has been a fixture in the Champions League for Red Star Belgrade, but this is a whole new level. Davies is, right now, one of Europe’s must-watch players. He’s a hell of a player to watch, and he has one of the most inspiring stories out there (not to mention his top-notch social media game).
We’ve seen Canadians in Europe before — very successful ones, too. Even now, Scott Arfield and Junior Hoilett are out there with plenty of Premier League experience. Nothing like this, though.
The Alphonso Davies show landed in England this week, and it earned rave reviews. It seemed every newspaper had a story on him; the BBC, nestled in a retelling of his path to Bayern from a Liberian refugee camp (a tale Canadians know well), anointed him man of the match for Tuesday. The Guardian called him “electric.”
The 19-year-old even made it into the homes of this writer’s overseas family on Irish national broadcaster RTÉ — yes, actually, I have heard of this Canadian kid. Thanks for asking, Sean.
Just a day after his showing at Stamford Bridge, rumours have already surfaced that Bayern has started to discuss a new contract with their brightest young star. Die Roten are by no means a young team at the moment, with mythic goalscorer Robert Lewandowski now the wrong side of 30. Of course they’d want to get Davies locked in for years.
Imagine, if you will, yourself ten years ago. Davies was nine, and the Canadian men’s team had, once again, missed ‘the Hex’ for World Cup qualification. If someone had told you that a player would come through the Vancouver Whitecaps (not even an MLS team yet) and become Bayern Munich’s starting left-back by the age of 19, how long would you have taken to stop laughing?
It’s real, though. But it’s very real.
We can bicker as much as we like over where Davies should play in Canada’s starting 11, but let’s never lose sight of the fact that a player like him can even be in Canada’s starting 11.
Davies will (probably) play for Canada in a pair of friendlies vs. Trinidad at Westhills Stadium in March. With Pacific FC investing so heavily in B.C. youth football, including a multi-million-dollar training centre, how many local youngsters might see him, and imagine themselves following in his footsteps?
Might it one day be commonplace for Canadians, perhaps even developed in the CPL, to suit up for the world’s biggest clubs? We can dream.
For now, though, let’s enjoy what we’ve got already: