Alphonso Davies: "Hopefully Bayern Munich put me up top one day"
Alphonso Davies says he is enjoying playing left-back for Bayern Munich, but admits he would relish the opportunity to show the record champions what he's made of in his preferred wing role.
Davies has made 15 of his 24 competitive appearances since joining the 28-time Bundesliga winners from Vancouver Whitecaps in January 2019 on the left-hand side of defence, despite being widely viewed as the long-term successor to retired club legend Arjen Robben.
The 19-year-old ended the calendar year on the back of a 13-match run in the starting line-up and, with defenders Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Süle not due back from injury any time soon, is expected to pick up where he left off when Bayern return to Bundesliga action against Jürgen Klinsmann's Hertha Berlin on 19 January 2020.
"It's different," Davies told the Edmonton Sun during a Christmas visit to the Alberta province capital, the teenager's hometown. "My mindset growing up was attack, attack, attack, but now it’s defend, defend, defend. It's different because now when I want to go forward, I have to be aware of the guys behind me. If I get caught with a long ball, I could be in big trouble. I'm playing the game as a defender right now, and hopefully one day they put me up top. But I'm happy to play whatever position the coach puts me."
Watch: Alphonso Davies discusses his impressive run in the Bayern first team
Bayern's interim boss Hansi Flick has led the plaudits for Davies in recent weeks, praising his "monumental development". Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has also been waxing lyrical about the 17-time Canada international, who sprinted a good 70 yards before teeing up Robert Lewandowski in the Matchday 16 win at Freiburg. He's now on one goal and two assists for the campaign, whilst his average numbers for passing accuracy and pass completion are fast approaching 60 and 90 per cent respectively.
"Things are going well, I'm playing a few more games now and getting some minutes with the team and training has been going well," said Davies, having only made his Bundesliga debut late in January 2019. "I'm trying to stay as healthy as possible. You learn a lot from those guys. Some of those guys are World Cup winners, some guys are Champions League winners and as a kid from Edmonton, I'm just trying to soak up as much information as possible."
Davies had the opportunity to chew the fat with Cologne-born National Hockey League (NHL) player Leon Draisaitl whilst back in Canada, before watching the Edmonton Oilers take on Calgary Flames at Rogers Place. It was a memorable experience, despite the 5-1 final scoreline in visiting Calgary's favour - although the Bayern starlet doesn't for one second regret his decision to pursue a career in soccer as a kid.
"[Draisaitl] told me when he was eight he played soccer for a year, but that it wasn’t for him so he stuck to hockey," Davies revealed. "I also tried hockey for about a week and I didn’t enjoy it too much. It was too cold and I just wanted to play football. I have tremendous respect for hockey players. It’s not easy, going out there every day and getting hit, especially with goalies with all that padding on and that small puck, trying to track it. Their coordination is amazing. They're amazing athletes."
The Oilers' Draisaitl no doubt said something similar about Davies. 'Kid Canada' has broken all manner of records for club and country since making his pro debut at 15 for the Whitecaps, from becoming the first player born in the 2000s to play in Major League Soccer (MLS) to Canada's youngest debutant and goalscorer. He was even a speaker at the 2018 FIFA World Congress in which Canada, along with the USA and Mexico, were awarded hosting rights for the 2026 World Cup - and continues to enjoy national role model status to this day.
"I think it's a good thing to be," admitted Davies, who was born in a Ghanaian refugee camp, before moving to Canada with his Liberian parents at the age of five and gaining Canadian citizenship in July 2017. "When I was little, I used to look up to some of the FC Edmonton guys. They would come to soccer camps and were an inspiration to us, because we had this dream of wanting to play professionally."
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