Key Stats – Games: 27 / Goals 3 / Assists 5
The history of Canadian football isn’t exactly littered with world beaters, with players such as Tomasz Radzinski, Junior Hoilett, Paul Stalteri and Julian de Guzman all having respectable professional careers, some more so than others, but none of the aforementioned have ever quite hit the heights that many in the Great White North hoped they could. Then there’s the deserters, the few who turned their back on the country that they called home from birth, figures such as the younger de Guzman brother Jonathan (The Netherlands) and the proud Englishman Owen Hargreaves, both of whom showed glimpses of world class ability for their clubs and adopted nations, before respective injuries stunted their progress and left the football world to wonder what might have been.
So, what now for Canada? Enter Alphonso Davies, the Canadian national with Liberian parents born in a refugee camp in Ghana. It was upon moving to Canada at the age of 5 that Davies developed the love for football. A love that would see him become one of the most talked about young footballers on the planet following his record breaking move to Bayern Munich. The chatter in the football world, however, had begun long before this, with Davies breaking record after record for Vancouver Whitecaps in both the USL and the MLS after signing a professional contract at just 15 years and 3 months.
Very few times in my life have I been awestruck by a player upon first seeing them play and usually that excitement is reserved for the Messi’s and Ronaldo’s of the world, players with flair and complex techniques that mere mortals can only dream of. However, what struck me first with Alphonso Davies was a combination of the un-coachable attributes he possesses along with his incredible athleticism. His desire to play the game shines through first and foremost. Rarely do you see a player who has as much drive as Davies, both on and off the pitch, and even rarer are players that are as comfortable in so many positions on the pitch as him, having played in every position except in goal and at centre back in his young career to date. Predominantly a winger, Davies has mostly been employed as a left back this season for Bayern Munich after what can now categorised as a masterstroke and parting gift to Munich by former coach Niko Kovac, for it was Kovac that recognised Davies potential for the position that he now firmly occupies as his own. Davies also possesses a maturity and confidence that far exceed his 19 years, the latter evidenced by his flicked nutmeg on his Bayern debut and dominant performance against Chelsea in the Champions League.
When we delve in to the statistics provided by Smarter Scout, we can begin to see just how Alphonso Davies compares with some of the best fullbacks in world football and why this teenage sensation is quietly shoe-horning himself into the conversation about who is the best fullback in the world.
The model ratings provided by Smarterscout show that, whilst Davies has room to grow into his new defensive role, his willingness and athleticism to recover far exceeds that of his peers with regards to the amount of defending that he does over 90 minutes and I have no doubts that as he matures and relaxes into the role not only will the quality of his defending improve, but so to will his attacking output become more consistent and effective, meaning Davies has the potential to be compared to Dani Alves in his prime, which when you consider Alves is the most decorated footballer of all-time, isn’t too shabby, especially for a converted winger.
Style of Play
The dominant attributes amongst the statistics include his dribbling, recovery and link up play, all statistics that are essential for the modern-day fullback and all areas that Alphonso Davies excels in. When comparing these statistics to other top fullbacks the picture becomes clearer, with only Aaron Wan Bissaka of Manchester United rivalling him in dribbling and both Andrew Robertson of Liverpool and Wan Bissaka coming close to his impressive recovery stats, with Dani Alves dominating and surpassing all others with his in possession stats. However, at 19, Davies is already knocking on the great Brazilian’s door, one would assume to collect the torch to carry for the next ten years.
If more evidence is needed to underpin the potential that Alphonso Davies has to become the torch bearer for fullbacks everywhere, it can be seen when comparing his dual stats. Andrew Robertson leads the way in aerial duels (the Scottish will stick the nut in anywhere), but it’s in the consistency of Davies ground duels, both in and out of possession that hints towards this Canadian wonderkid becoming the real deal.
So how far can this kid go? The sky is truly the limit and although there are areas such as his defending quality, aerial prowess and attacking output that can be improved. Alphonso Davies is already up there with the current great fullbacks in world football and above all else, you can be sure that this young man has the desire, drive and confidence that could see him being mentioned amongst the true greats in years to come.