Is Alphonso Davies the best left back in the world?
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2 Yrs Ago
When Alphonso Davies arrived in Germany less than two years ago, he was a teenager known by few Bundesliga supporters, and he was seen very much as a long-term project. Few could have envisioned that less than two years later Davies would be considered one of the best in the world at his position, if not the best.
The category of world’s best left backs has been dominated for years by the likes of Marcelo and Jordi Alba, with Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson and Juventus’ Alex Sandro gaining more recent momentum. Marcelo’s star has begun to fade, leaving the conversation wide open for a new name, and Davies has raced into the picture by virtue of his dominating displays both before and after the hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Only 19, Davies arrived at Bayern Munich as more of an attacking player from his time in Major League Soccer with the Vancouver Whitecaps. In MLS, Davies played a variety of positions, including left back at times, but he was far from being a defensive specialist when he made the move to Germany.
Former Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac gave Davies his first regular run at the left back position, after Davies spent his first year in Germany playing sparingly. An ankle injury to Lucas Hernandez opened the door for some regular minutes and Davies never let go of the position. He earned his first start in late October, starting every match since.
Davies has benefited from playing alongside veteran defenders like David Alaba and Jerome Boateng, and has adapted quickly to a position he has had to learn on the fly. Initially seen as a player who could provide an offensive threat and occasional weakness defensively, Davies has shown consistent improvement on the defensive side of his game, utilizing his world-class speed to cover for his occasional positional mistakes. Those mistakes have started to happen much less frequently, and Davies’ growing confidence has seen him turn into a defender capable of shutting down an entire side of the field.
Davies saw his profile boosted considerably just before the COVID-19 hiatus after his impressive showing against Chelsea in Champions League play on February 25. Bayern’s 3-0 rout at Stamford Bridge showed Davies at his best, containing Chelsea’s attackers while pressing forward to support Bayern’s attack. He assisted on Robert Lewandowski’s goal to seal the 3-0 result, and immediately after that match the talk began about Davies being one of the most exciting teenage players in the world.
As his defensive has improved, Davies has begun to gain more freedom to push forward, and that side of his game has blossomed since Bayern returned to action. He has scored goals in two of Dortmund’s past three matches, adding an assist, and his performance in Bayern’s pivotal win against Borussia Dortmund drew raves, as he outplayed fellow youngster Achraf Hakimi, and even used his blazing speed to shut down a dangerous Erling Haaland chance.
In just his first full season as a starter, Davies is still learning, but his rapid rise has made him a strength for Bayern rather than a liability. If he can continue to improve at the rate he has progressed in recent months, the Champions League in August could serve as a perfect showcase for him to make his case for being considered the best let back in the world.
While it may be a bit early still to give him that title, it isn’t a stretch to call him one of the most exciting young players in the sport.
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