Bit of trivia.
Can you name North America’s four biggest countries by population?
USA, Mexico, Canada and…? Guatemala, of course. But for the purpose of this piece we’re only bothered about the first three. Sorry Guatemala.
A ten year Major League Soccer record was broken when Bayern Munich signed 17-year-old winger Alphonso Davies from Vancouver Whitecaps.
The $23million transfer fee eclipsed that which took Jozy Altidore from New York Red Bulls to Villarreal back in 2008.
Davies’ story is a moving one.
He was born in a Ghanaian refugee camp to Liberian parents, although that fact only came to light during the process of becoming a Canadian citizen in 2017.
Davies’ parents had fled Liberia during the Second Liberian Civil War, making their way to Ghana and then Canada, where they eventually settled in Edmonton.
It didn’t take long for Davies’ ability to become apparent. In 2015 he joined MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps, making his senior debut at the age of 15.
Only Freddy Adu has taken his first steps in MLS at a younger age, although Davies will be hoping that’s where the similarities end.
An international debut followed aged 16, just a week after Davies’ official Canadian citizenship was granted.
Now he’ll be following in the footsteps of Calgary-born Owen Hargreaves and looking to make an impact at Bayern.
It’s big news for Canada. It’s also big news for North America.
USA, Mexico and Canada now each have a potential superstar to pin their international futures to, both on and off the pitch, all of whom are yet to hit 23.
In an era where marketability is only slightly secondary to talent Christian Pulisic, Hirving Lozano and Davies are blessed with both in abundance.
Both Borussia Dortmund’s Pulisic and PSV winger Lozano boast 1.1 million fans on Instagram.
LeBron James, arguably the biggest name in the whole of North America, recently posted a photo of himself wearing Pulisic’s USA jersey to his 39.7 million Instagram followers.
Lozano’s performances at the 2018 World Cup, in which he scored the winning goal against defending champions Germany, mean he’s unlikely to be at PSV for much longer.
USA didn’t make the tournament but that wasn’t through a lack of effort or skill on Pulisic’s part.
The 19-year-old scored seven times during qualification but was massively let down by his team-mates.
It could be a blessing in disguise as he’s now had a full pre-season to boost his chances of hitting the ground running when the Bundesliga season kicks off.
Two goals against employers-in-waiting Liverpool will certainly help boost any confidence lost while watching the rest of the world dance in Russia.
Davies is the unknown quantity of the trio.
While Pulisic grew up in a European academy Davies is going to have to adapt to a different style of football without any prior experience.
The blueprint is there. Hargreaves moved straight from Calgary Kickers to Bayern with less first-team experience and, if truth be told, less talent.
Davies has three goals in six appearances for Canada and he’s yet to turn 18. He’s a once in a generation player for his adopted country.
Now the task will be proving that he’s cut out for the Bundesliga and, once that’s done, blazing a trail for other North American players to make a mark at Europe’s top clubs.
It’s a tall task, but Bayern haven’t spent the money as part of a PR exercise.
Davies won’t have the cloak of obscurity that Hargreaves carried when he quietly joined Bayern’s academy in 1997, but if all goes well he’ll inherit his title as the greatest Canadian footballer to play the game.