Bayern Munich have recognised Alphonso Davies’ brilliant run of form at left-back by handing the Canadian a new and improved contract.
bundesliga.com explains why the 19-year-old is worthy of his fresh deal.
In early March 2019, Davies had clocked up four of the six Bundesliga substitute appearances he would make in the 2018/19 campaign, having moved from Vancouver Whitecaps that winter. The next – during which he scored his first Bayern goal in a 6-1 win over Mainz – would see him come on for David Alaba. It was the first time the teenage winger had filled in at left-back.
A year on and at the same stage of the 2019/20 season, Davies had featured 21 times in the German top flight and started 17 games on the left side of defence. The Canadian star's development has been rapid – akin to one of his runs up the wing – and it has come despite him having to get to grips with a relatively new role.
“And Alphonso is producing top performances. He is well on the way to becoming a world-class left-back.”
Watch: Learn more about what Davies brings to Bayern Munich
Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, meanwhile, praised the work of head scout Marco Neppe for identifying Davies. He said that the record German champions had done extensive research by watching several of the youngster’s matches, but were always destined to go after him.
“We were convinced about him from the very first minute,” Salihamidzic said.
The new contract was duly delivered and signed in April 2020, which came as no surprise to anyone who has watched the Canadian’s progress in recent months. Davies not only took to life in the Bundesliga in the manner that Bayern would have hoped, but he also did so over a period when the defending champions were in a sticky situation.
There was a change of coach in November, when Hansi Flick replaced Niko Kovac, and the league leaders have also had to deal with plenty of injuries this season. Centre-back Niklas Süle tore his cruciate ligament in October, while Lucas Hernandez – a World Cup-winning left-back with France – has missed 20 games due to a serious ankle problem.
A regular on the left of defence, Alaba had to shift to centre-back, meaning that Davies has enjoyed an extended run in the Austrian’s usual role. Although he was previously thought of as a winger, however, this was not a case of fitting a square peg into a round hole. Davies has relished the challenge, and – thanks in no small part to his remarkable pace – has been consistently impressive.
“He came to Germany as a left winger but he’s produced world-class performances at left-back – and that’s where he can help us the most,” said his teammate Thomas Müller.
The 2018 Canadian Men’s Player of the Year has one goal and four assists in this season’s Bundesliga, along with a pass completion rate approaching 90 per cent. He made his 28th appearance of the season in the DFB Cup quarter-final success against Schalke, and has one assist in that competition as well as three more in this season’s UEFA Champions League.
Davies enhanced his reputation further during Bayern’s resounding 3-0 win over Chelsea in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, motoring down the wing before calmly teeing up Robert Lewandowski for the third goal in London.
Afterwards, he suggested that he’s entirely comfortable with the demands placed on players at a club like Bayern.
“Champions League, Bundesliga – it’s all the same football I think,” Davies told broadcaster RTE. “We just want to win every game we play.”
It helps that Alaba has been operating just to his right in central defence, and that Bayern goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer is close behind them. As a result, Davies said he had found it easy enough to settle into his new role.
“A little bit, knowing I have players around me that can give me advice constantly,” Davies stated. “Sometimes it’s not easy to play left-back, but I’m enjoying the position.”
In a short space of time, the teenager has gone from being a promising squad player to being a vital cog in the machine. Bayern reserve team coach Sebastian Hoeneß, who helped prepare the Canadian for his first-team breakthrough, is delighted at how Davies has developed.
“Phonzy is now one of the top and most consistent performers at Bayern,” Hoeneß told Goal.
“The fact that he mostly played as a winger early on now benefits him as a left-back. His physique is one of his great strengths. He is a model athlete – fast and also very robust.”
It’s unlikely that such recent plaudits – given how hard he has worked and how humble he seems – will go to Davies’ head. Neuer did sound a note of caution, though, albeit only to help ensure his talented teammate will continue to shine.
“You shouldn’t praise him too much – that way he’ll improve his game even more,” the Germany captain said.
Born in a refugee camp in Ghana, Davies has continued to clear every hurdle placed in his path – and seized every opportunity that has come his way. Bayern believe it’s a trend that won’t stop any time soon.
“He’s doing brilliantly but he still has the potential to improve – and he will,” Flick said after the Chelsea game.
A new deal could be just the encouragement Davies needs, then, as well as the reward that he definitely deserves.