How Alphonso Davies earned a starting spot at Bayern – and the fans’ hearts

Bayern fans named Alphonso Davies as the club’s Player of the Month in December. Here’s why – and how – Phonzie has skyrocketed to the fans’ hearts – and the teamsheet.

Club leadership announced in July 2018 that they had struck a deal with a 17-year-old Canadian playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps. You would have been forgiven for responding with a resounding “who?”. Everyone looked at that summer with particular attention. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry would bow out by the end of the following season, and fans expected the club to set the transition in motion.

It took six months for Davies to be eligible to play. By the end of January, he’d already made his debut. Davies spent the rest of 2018-19 split between the first team and the Amateure. While he made appearances as a substitute for the first team, he remained a fixture of the Amateure team that secured a return to the 3. Liga. In between Amateure appearances, Davies found time to score a first goal for Bayern. He did it against Mainz, and it was clear from his celebration, and the fans’ enthusiasm, that both sides were smitten.

After 2019-20, it appeared the plan for Davies would stick. He would make regular Amateure appearances, and feature in the first team squad as needed.

And then, injuries happened.

Conversion

Davies emerged as a solution for the left-back position in late October, when injuries started to accumulate at the back. David Alaba moved to central defence when Niklas Süle and Lucas Hernández both were sidelined. Niko Kovač had already played Davies at left-back against Paderborn in September. Still, it was a surprise to see the Canadian start in the position against Union Berlin on 26 October.

Davies’ speed to run upfield in possession, and his remarkable commitment to trace back to defend, made him a good choice for LB. Indeed, it is a position where the youngling has been able to show he’s more than just technical ability and legs. He has a refined sense of tactics, a very keen knack to read the game and do the little things well.

After the game against Union Berlin, Davies has played every single minute of every single game. Perhaps not coincidentally, his conversion to a left-back has created a win-win situation for him and Bayern. Davies found his place in the squad, just like Joshua Kimmich found his at right-back. He has consequently benefitted from the generous playing time, and his growth has been almost palpable in these recent months. In addition to his solid defensive performance, Davies has scored once and racked up four assists.

This last thing is also made possible by the fact that Davies is such a hard worker. Both on pitch and during training, Davies is a focused lad. Rather than feeling emboldened by his rise, he appears to see it as an opportunity to keep earning his stars. And it makes sense, too. There will be rough competition for defensive spots when Hernández and Süle return, even if Jérôme Boateng leaves and Kimmich makes a permanent return to midfield. Davies is keen to seize his chance to get a head start for a starting place.

Hard work does pay, chaps. And at left-back, Alphonso Davies is the sensation the club sold us back in July 2018. Hansi Flick seems to have unreserved trust in the 19-year-old, and with good reason.

Brains and looks

Davies’ hard work is not confined to the pitch or the training ground. A constant fixture of Bayern’s social media profiles, number 19 has made a point of immersing himself in the club ethos and the culture of Bavaria. He understands the importance of adapting and earning the fans’ favour, and he seems to have fun while he’s doing it. Phonzie is the kind of lad with a smile always on his face, and an easygoing demeanour that enamours fans. He is also unreserved with regards to his love for the club. This has also translated into him being well regarded in the squad. His teammates have taken well to him.

Make no mistake, readers. This sort of thing is naturally secondary to the actual football, but important nonetheless. Fans, and especially Bayern fans, want players that identify with the Mia San Mia mentality. Phonzie not only gets that, he revels in it. His approach to adapting to a club – especially at such a young age – contrasts starkly with that of others who went on to have unremarkable spells at the club. As a fan, you’re more than clear about the fact that Davies wants to be an important part of the club. That, whichever way you look at it, is satisfying.

Davies is thus a complete package – quality and determination on pitch, positive demeanour off it. His recent rise to grace may only be the start of a very good relationship with club and fans.