Alphonso Davies is set to move to Bayern Munich for a potentially record $20 million. His path up to this point is how MLS clubs should be looking to develop players.
Alphonso Davies is about to re-write history. The Canadian youngster is set to join Bayern Munich in a deal that could reach as much as $20 million, a figure that far surpasses the previous record MLS sale, the $6.5 million dollars that Villareal had to pay to secure the services of Jozy Altidore.
The Vancouver Whitecaps may have hoped to keep Davies for a little longer, especially with a playoff push ensuing this season and his tender age of 18 meaning that significant strides could be made in the next few months, nevermind years. But the type of money that is on offer is difficult to turn down.
The impending sale of Davies is a model for all MLS clubs to follow as they look to find a pathway for their brightest talents to shine: academy, USL team, MLS team, sale.
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It was in 2015, three years ago, that Davies made his name known to the Vancouver Whitecaps. After playing local club, Edmington Internationals and Edmonton Strikers, Davies was approached and signed by Whitecaps FC Residency. As a part of the Whitecaps academy, Davies continued to display his natural gifting for the game, showcasing blistering pace and a clinical eye for goal.
A year later, in February 2016, he then signed for the Vancouver Whitecaps II, the USL expansion of the Whitecaps franchise. He may only have been 15 at the time, but the talent was undeniable; Vancouver were keen to prevent him from moving elsewhere but knew that he wasn’t ready for MLS action, so exploited the USL’s lesser quality and cheaper contracts to offer the young attacker meaningful minutes and ensure that his future would not be enjoyed elsewhere.
He only lasted for four months in the USL. Not because he wasn’t good enough, but because Vancouver realised where his talents belonged, in MLS. In July 2016, the Whitecaps signed him to an MLS contract and, slowly but surely, he has worked his way into the starting line-up, eventually becoming a prominent starter this season, in which he has caught the eye with a series of startling performances, scoring three goals and assisting six in 17 starts.
That brings us to the present day, a present day in which he is set to shatter the record for an MLS sale, traverse halfway across the globe and set foot in a country that he has never played in before, and hope to further his career in this far off land full of opportunity and peril. It remains to be seen how Davies will fair in this new environment. His whole career is still in front of him. There is still a great variance in how it will all play out. We all remember Freddy Adu, right?
But that doesn’t really matter for the Whitecaps. Obviously they want him to succeed. Any decent human being would. But in terms of concrete advantages and achievements, Davies’ progression does nothing for them, other than to raise what they may earn from a sell-on clause. That may seem cold-blooded and ruthless, but it is the truth. Now that Davies is no longer their play, it doesn’t really matter what he does in his career.
That is a key point for many MLS teams to decipher, and then for them to learn from the Davies’ development. His pathway, from local team to academy to USL side to MLS to big-money move, is one that many other boys can make in the future. There is talent out there, and increasingly so. But teams have to be willing to go look for it and scouts and personnel departments and coaches and players have to have the attitude and ability to find it, to hone it, to fine-tune it, and to ultimately sell it.
Vancouver has proven that it’s possible. Now it’s time for their MLS counterparts to follow suit. It’s now their move.