David Alaba (l.) has been a tremendous help to Alphonso Davies (r.) in the pair's time together at Bayern Munich. - © imago
David Alaba (l.) has been a tremendous help to Alphonso Davies (r.) in the pair's time together at Bayern Munich. - © imago
bundesliga

Bayern Munich's Alphonso Davies: "Having David Alaba beside me was amazing"

Alphonso Davies has paid tribute to David Alaba, praising his Bayern Munich mentor for the impact he has had on his game.

Davies, 20, burst onto the first-team scene at Bayern in 2019/20, hastened by an injury to left-back Alaba.

"It all turned," the Canadian - an attacking winger in his pre-Bayern days - recalled in an interview for The Independent. "David [Alaba] got injured and they needed a left-back, so the coach 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."

Watch: Alphonso Davies under the tactical microscope

Davies' deployment on the left-hand side of the Bayern back four was initially seen as a stop-gap, but long-term injuries to first-choice central defenders Niklas Süle and Lucas Hernandez prompted then coach Niko Kovac into a further rejig.

Davies continued wide left, with the fit-again Alaba lending his coveted versatility to the left-sided centre-back role. The Austrian also used his expertise to guide the head and feet of his most receptive student yet.

"He gives me a lot of information, and he tells me sometimes that with my experience I can lose a bit of focus," Davies said of Alaba. "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."

With six Bundesliga appearances under his belt heading into his first full campaign on German soil, Davies was 43 first-team outings better off by the end of it. Of the 36 in all competitions overseen by head coach Hansi Flick between 9 November 2019 and 23 August 2020, he missed only one through suspension, whilst starting 34 - all at left-back.

A combination of inevitable fatigue, the re-emergence of 2018 FIFA World Cup winner Hernandez and an ankle ligament injury that put him in the treatment room for almost two months checked the Canada international's inexorable progress in the early part of 2020/21, but he rediscovered his groove heading into the Rückrunde.

Davies duly helped Bayern wrap up their 30th Bundesliga title with room to spare, having not long played his part in the club's completion of an historic sextuple in the FIFA Club World Cup.

"I'm doing well there, and I'm excited to play more games as a left-back," he said.

Watch: Alphonso Davies's landmark season

Davies is expected to make his 58th Bundesliga appearance on the final day of the 2020/21 campaign, when the record champions host Augsburg. It will also be Alaba's last, following 13 decorated years in the Bavarian capital.

At 28, the Austrian all-rounder bows out as the Bundesliga's youngest record champion, with his 10 Bundesliga title wins a feat matched only by teammate Thomas Müller. He has lifted 25 trophies all told, and ranks as Bayern's all-time leading non-German appearance-maker (Saturday's swan song will be his 431st for the club).

Alaba's next career move is still to be decided, but his legacy will live on - none more so than through Davies.

"Having one of the best left-backs beside you while you're playing his position was amazing," commented the Bundesliga's fastest player on record. "I'm very grateful to David."