Alphonso Davies could have joined Paris Saint-Germain, but opted for Bayern Munich, where he has become a world star. - © imago
Alphonso Davies could have joined Paris Saint-Germain, but opted for Bayern Munich, where he has become a world star. - © imago

Alphonso Davies: How Bayern Munich beat Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Manchester United to the Canadian prodigy's signature


Alphonso Davies has established himself as one of the most exciting names in world football since joining Bayern Munich from Major League Soccer outfit Vancouver Whitecaps in 2018. As the 19-year-old prepares to become the first Canada international to play in a UEFA Champions League final, finds out how the record champions went about securing his services...

According to SportBild, Davies first popped up on Bayern's radar in 2016, around about the same time he had made history as the first player born in the 2000s to appear in the MLS, aged 15 years, eight months and 15 days old.

Interest in the Canadian - born to Liberian parents in a Ghanian refugee camp - intensified over the ensuing 18 months, with the likes of Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern's upcoming Champions League final opponents Paris Saint-Germain among the long line of high-profile suitors.

Man United's former international scout Jorge Alvial claims he filed in the region of 40 scouting reports on Davies, urging the Red Devils to snap him up.

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu was told about Davies by Hristo Stoichkov - as reported by TUDN - only to reject the club legend's advice because the player in question was Canadian.

By the time PSG came knocking - offering big bucks, as per The Province - Davies had already made up his mind.

"I'm very happy about my transfer to Bayern," Davies said after signing a five-year deal with the record title-holders on 25 July 2018.

"As a kid, you dream about this moment and I'm happy it came through."

Watch: Relive Alphonso Davies' first steps at Bayern Munich

As the crème de la crème of the Bundesliga - the destination of choice for youngsters seeking to take their fledgling careers to the next level - the best-supported club in world football and a veritable powerhouse of the global game, Bayern didn't have to concern themselves with the hard sell.

Their track record of turning prodigious talent into international stars - David Alaba, Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich to name but a few - sweetened the deal, but it was lesser-known goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic who helped set the wheels in motion.

A teammate of Davies at Vancouver, Marinovic had started his professional career in Germany, playing for Wehen Wiesbaden and Munich clubs Ismaning, the 1860 reserves and Unterhaching. He had insight on the player and the potential destination, and it was on his advice that ex-Wiesbaden defender Marco Neppe, Bayern's incumbent chief scout, stepped up the club's pursuit of 'Kid Canada'.

Accompanied by Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and legal director Michael Gerlinger, Neppe flew out to Vancouver on 18 July 2018 to meet with Davies and his agent, Nick Househ. The signing was complete, for an MLS record fee, within a week.

"Alphonso Davies is a very big talent, and has huge potential at just 17," Salihamidzic commented at the time.

"Alphonso already possesses great ability, which is why a lot of top clubs were keen on him, and I'm delighted he's chosen FC Bayern. I want to thank everyone who worked on this transfer, especially our scouting and legal departments. It was outstanding teamwork."

Davies (2nd.l) was initially seen as the long-term successor to winger Arjen Robben (2nd.r), when he joined Bayern. - imago

Bayern had to wait until Davies turned 18 in November 2018 for the transfer to be cleared by FIFA, before he could officially make the switch in the January 2019 transfer window.

In the interim, following the conclusion of the MLS season, Davies enjoyed a month-long orientation with his future employers. The onboarding was, by his own admission, "on another level" - but fundamental to his transatlantic transition.

Sufficiently re-educated the Bayern way, Davies made his first-team debut in the mid-season Telekom Cup against Borussia Mönchengladbach, just under a fortnight after linking up with his new employers. His Bundesliga bow duly followed in a 4-1 win at home to VfB Stuttgart on 27 January 2019.

When Salihamidzic said Bayern "wouldn't hold Davies back", tipping the youngster to become "one of the best of his generation", he meant it.

Davies' development (centre-left) been lauded by the Bayern hierarchy, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic (centre-right) included. - imago

Davies turned out six times for the senior team during the second half of 2018/19, and featured on a handful of occasions for the reserves in Germany's fourth tier. His longest top-flight cameo was clocked at 31 minutes, in which he became Bayern's first goalscorer born in the 2000s and youngest in 20 years, courtesy of a late strike in a 6-1 drubbing of Mainz on 17 March 2019.

The able understudy landed a lead role in the early part of 2019/20 - not in his accustomed wing role, but as Bayern's first-choice left-back. Since 26 October 2019, he has started 37 of Bayern's 38 competitive matches in a defensive role, only missing the Bundesliga Matchday 33 win against Freiburg through suspension.

"Alphonso is doing an outstanding job," enthused Bayern coach Hansi Flick recently. "He's setting up goals in attack and has scored some himself, and is very adept defensively.

"He's on a very good path. He's young - he can and wants to learn. He's one of our best players."

Watch: Alphonso Davies under the tactical microscope

Believe the hype. Having capped his first full campaign at Bayern with the 2019/20 Bundesliga Rookie of the Year award, as well as successive Bundesliga and DFB Cup winner's medals, Davies is one game from landing another major accolade.

To date, no Canada international has featured in a Champions League final, let alone won it. Davies could be the first - against the club that tried to pluck him from Bayern's grasp.

If his lightning-bolt performances in the knockout rounds against Chelsea, Barcelona and Lyon are anything to go by, the Bundesliga champions will beat their French counterparts to the punch once again.

Chris Mayer-Lodge