VANCOUVER, BC – After his latest star showing in Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s 3-2 win over Chicago Fire in Week 19, Alphonso Davies’ stock continues to rise, as does the number of clubs worldwide that are taking notice of his performances.
“I could give you a list of all the teams that have been, if you've got four pages of A4 paper,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson quipped at training on Tuesday when asked about the growing number of international clubs said to be watching the 17-year-old.
The chase for Davies will surely only continue to heat up when he turns 18 in November. For now, though, Robinson’s message to the fans is a simple one: enjoy him while you can.
“There's interest in him because he's playing really well,” Robinson admitted. “He's playing at a really high level. There's lot of interest in him … but 24 hours in football is a long time, so I don’t know what’s around the corner.
“He’s with us at the moment and he’s playing phenomenally well. He’s got a contract with us, he loves being here, we love having him here. I think the supporters love watching him play. And until that changes, I would just say enjoy it. He’s a phenomenal talent who still has more to give."
Davies is having the best season of his brief MLS career, showing off elite skills in the open field and playing a major role in Vancouver's recent attacking resurgence.
The Canadian international has been in fine form of late, grabbing a hat-trick of assists and a goal in their 5-2 win over Orlando last month, and although he was only credited with one assist in Saturday’s win against Chicago, Davies had a hand in all three of Vancouver’s goals.
But despite the hoopla surrounding him, Saturday's match was a prime example of what Davies still needs to work on in his game, with composure in the final third and better decision making key development points the team are working on with him.
“It's just trying to get more confidence out of him, but keeping his feet on the ground,” Robinson said. “He's in a good vein of form at the moment but he's also got to understand tactically what I want and what we need as a team from him, because if he's going to get to that next level, which I firmly believe he will, then there's going to be more and more asked of him.”
Despite all the publicity, which is only set to grow with his selection to the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Target, Davies is still a teenager and the team is measured as to his media exposure, preferring for him to do his talking on the pitch. But you can't protect a player forever, and Robinson has no doubts that his young winger will make it to the top of the game at some stage soon.
“Phonzie is a great young player,” Robinson said. “He's got great talent and he's got great potential, but he's got a long way to go. And the reason I protect him, is because I need to teach him. If you throw him to the wolves, unfortunately he'll get swallowed up.
“I don't want to do that at the moment because there's still teaching points and building blocks that I need to put in his make-up for when he does go to that next level. Do I believe he will go to the next level? One hundred percent that he will. When? I don't know.”