Bayern Munich's Alphonso Davies says the growing number of North Americans plying their trade in the Bundesliga is a real inspiration and motivating factor for players back in Canada and the USA.
Christian Pulisic's emergence at Borussia Dortmund is seen as the catalyst for the new wave of North American talent, which currently includes Davies, US internationals Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Weston McKennie (Schalke) and Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), and teenaged prodigy Gio Reyna (Dortmund).
Watch: All Davies' Bundesliga goals and assists in 2019/20
"Christian Pulisic is a great player," Davies said in an interview with Men In Blazers. "You see his path. I didn’t get the chance to play against him when he was at Dortmund, and even with Chelsea he was injured. I played against him for Canada against the US.
"With Tyler Adams, we played against each other in MLS, we talk to each other. I just met Reyna this year. Seeing all these guys on this side is eye-opening for North American players."
Davies officially made the switch to Bayern in January 2019, shortly after turning 18. Despite enjoying a record-breaking stint with Vancouver Whitecaps in Major League Soccer, the teenager admits the step up in quality took some getting used to.
"I definitely found it intimidating," he recalled. "Me coming in as a young player from Canada, I didn’t know what to expect. The first training session was a passing drill. These balls are flying. The touch is crisp, the passing crisp. I was at the back of the line, waiting to pass the ball. I’m looking around thinking, 'this is amazing'.
"I did quite well and then the possession drill came. That’s when I struggled. The [quality of] passing is so high, the IQ of the players is so high and everything is just tip-top. When you see it on TV they make it look so easy and so casual, but when you’re actually there and experiencing it, it’s a whole other level."
After finishing his first six months at Bayern with six first-team appearances under his belt, Davies duly went up a gear in more ways than one in 2019/20.
Originally an explosive attacking wide player, he was repurposed as one of the world's best left-backs, making all but three of his 39 appearances during Bayern's domestic double-winning campaign on the left-hand side of the back four. He finished the season with three goals and nine assists, as well as the Bundesliga's Rookie of the Season award, teething troubles firmly in the past.
"The first game I started at left-back was against Union Berlin," Davies admitted. "I was looking around thinking, 'this is crazy' [...] Once I got the ball I was trying to make the first pass the easiest one to get myself in the game. It didn’t happen. It got caught between my feet and I almost lost the ball.
"I got the ball back after that and I made it easier and I started getting my confidence back. I tried to stay back and keep my position as much as possible because I didn’t want to get caught out of position. Errors here hurt you. That’s the difference between European football and MLS football."
Watch: Thomas Müller talks up Bayern's Road Runner
Davies' explosive powers of recovery have become one of the most exciting facets of his game. He clocked the fastest speed in Bundesliga history in Bayern's title-clinching win at Bremen, and has even acquired a new nickname to go with his 'Kid Canada' and 'Phonzie' monikers.
Thomas Müller heaped praise on Davies' searing pace following Bayern's decisive 1-0 victory at Dortmund on Matchday 28. One first-half passage of play typified the eye-watering speed at the Canadian's disposal as he chased down and denied fellow teen phenom Erling Haaland a clear sight of goal.
In a quite brilliant post-match interview, Müller aptly labelled his teammate: "The FC Bayern Road Runner".
"I loved it because I used to watch the cartoon," Davies said. "Hearing that from one of the best in the world is just amazing."