Transfer fee for Whitecaps' star Davies could reach US$22M: team
Published Wednesday, July 25, 2018 11:26AM PDT
VANCOUVER - Alphonso Davies says his dreams are coming true with a record-setting deal that will see the teenage soccer star join a major European club.
The Vancouver Whitecaps confirmed Wednesday that German soccer giant Bayern Munich has agreed to a transfer deal for the 17-year-old Canadian international midfielder. Bayern said Davies' contract runs until 2023.
The Whitecaps said in a release the move could amount to more than US$22 million, the most ever received by an MLS club in the league's 23-year history. The previous record was set in 2008 when Spanish club Villarreal spent US$10 million to acquire striker Jozy Altidore from the New York Red Bulls.
“Now that the dream has come true, the work continues as always,” Davies, who was in Philadelphia to sign the deal before Bayern played a friendly against Juventus on Wednesday night, said in a statement.
“I have to keep pushing and keep striving, and also keep being me on the field.”
Known for his blazing speed and uncanny ability to maintain control of the ball, Davies has worked his way up to Vancouver's starting lineup. He has eight assists and three goals in league play this season, and is scheduled to play in the MLS all-star game in Atlanta next month.
He'll play out the rest of the season in Vancouver. He's eligible to join Bayern when the international transfer window re-opens in January 2019.
Bayern Munich has won a record 28 German soccer titles, and has captured the UEFA Champions League five times.
The club's sporting director, Hasan Salihamidzic, posted about his newest player on Twitter, calling Davies a “huge talent.”
“At just 17, he has a bright future ahead of him. Alphonso is very talented and it comes as no surprise that many other top clubs were after him,” Salihamidzic said.
Davies - affectionately known by his teammates and Whitecaps staff as Fonzie - joined the Whitecaps residency program in 2015. Because he's a “homegrown player,” the team will keep the entire transfer fee.
The deal is a landmark for the Whitecaps, the MLS and Canada, said the team's co-owner, Jeff Mallett.
“Alphonso is an inspirational example of what is possible, and we are excited about how this transfer showcases our commitment to homegrown players for our club and country,” he said in a statement, adding that the ownership group is “committed to investing 100 per cent of the funds back into the sporting side of the club.”
This isn't the first time Bayern Munich has picked up a Canadian teen.
The club acquired Calgary-born Owen Hargreaves in 1997, when he was 16 years old. He went on to play seven seasons with Bayern, plus five more with Manchester United and Manchester City in the English Premier League.
Internationally, Hargreaves suited up for England, playing on both the 2002 and 2006 World Cup squads.
Davies has already made his mark on the Canadian men's team, after being called up to play in July 2017 shortly after he received his Canadian citizenship.
At the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the rising star became the youngest player to ever score for team Canada and the youngest scorer in the tournament's history. He took home the Golden Boot and Best Young Player honours from the event.
Earlier this year, Davies made a passionate speech on behalf of the United Bid to the FIFA World Congress in Russia ahead of the vote for the 2026 World Cup.
He described being born in a refugee camp in Ghana after his parents fled the Liberian civil war. The family later immigrated to Canada and eventually settled in Edmonton.
Davies told the crowd that his dream is to someday compete in soccer's biggest tournament, perhaps even in his hometown.
“I've played matches in Mexico, Canada and the United States. The people of North America have always welcomed me. If given the opportunity, I know they'll welcome you.”
The United Bid, featuring Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, won the bid to host the tournament.
Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi said at the time he had goosebumps watching Davies speak.
“I think his speech transcended soccer,” he said.
“He did it with such poise and enthusiasm and was wide-eyed by the end of it. And I was so proud of him and just delighted for his family that they could live the Canadian dream.”