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Quiet summer won’t slow transfer speculation surrounding top Canadian soccer talent

Alphonso Davies Bayern Munich Alphonso Davies - The Canadian Press

Following the 2022 World Cup, several of the biggest teams in Europe’s biggest leagues turned their attention to Canada’s talent.

For several weeks this summer, there was the possibility that Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, and Tajon Buchanan might each be playing for new clubs come the end of the transfer window.

But the big Canadian summer move didn't happen. Davies, David, and Buchanan all stayed put. 

Unpacking all three situations reveals how club politics and players learning how to assert themselves in a competitive and expensive transfer market can influence whether or not moves happen and how all those factors might impact moves in the future.

Davies is tied to Bayern Munich until summer 2025. But a month before Europe’s transfer window opened, reports emerged suggesting Manchester City and Real Madrid were interested in a move for the Edmonton native.

At the time, Bayern was in the midst of making changes to its front office. Those changes included the departure of sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić, who was part of bringing Davies to Munich from the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Davies’ agent, Nick Huoseh, revealed to TSN in June that Bayern was trying to sign the Canadian to a contract extension before the club made its executive-level changes.

“There is a lot of navigating to do,” Huoseh said at the time. “I have spoken to other clubs – they have texted and spoken to us; but we haven’t had any in-depth conversations with anybody.”

“The transfer rumours are out there, but at the end of the day they’re still rumours,” Davies also told TSN in June.

Bayern eventually promoted financial officer Jan-Christian Dreesen to club CEO, but Davies did not sign a new contract. 

For now, those around Davies insist his commitment to Bayern Munich. Davies has started this Bundesliga season with three assists in three starts. Nevertheless, there is clearly a wait-and-see approach around Davies as he observes how Dreesen will influence Bayern going forward. 

“The FC Bayern DNA is that we will invest heavily when we believe it’s right,” Dreesen said when Bayern unveiled new star striker Harry Kane to the German media in August.

Europe’s top clubs have been mulling over a big investment in David for much of the past two seasons.

Sources confirmed numerous times over the past two years that Arsenal, Barcelona, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Tottenham have all been interested in the forward. But there hasn't been a headline-stealing bid for David yet. Reports value the Canadian forward at over $80 million.

Like Davies, David is currently signed until summer 2025, and felt no urgency to force a move this summer. TSN can confirm AC Milan and Chelsea showed summertime interest, but the Ottawa native remains patient. 

David is said to be focused on the Ligue 1 and UEFA Conference League campaigns. The 23-year-old has 54 goals in 116 league appearances for Lille since 2020. Last season, his 24 league goals put him sixth in the race to be Europe’s top scorer, as well as being the third straight season his total league goals increased.

Sources around David say he is focused on helping Lille, but wants to be paid for his goal output, and will wait for one of Europe’s top teams to offer him a premium contract.

Heading into the summer, the likeliest big Canadian move appeared to be Buchanan moving from Belgium’s Club Brugge to Italian giants and Champions League finalists Inter Milan.

Sources indicated to TSN in June that Buchanan agreed to personal terms with Inter, but the move depended on the departure of Inter right-back Denzel Dumfries. 

It's not uncommon for players to agree on contract terms before finalizing a move. But, considering a team’s finances in a high-priced European marketplace, a club might need to sell to raise funds before buying a player.

Dumfries ultimately stayed at Inter, which meant Buchanan and Brugge needed another suitor.

Atlético Madrid in Spanish La Liga, Brentford in the English Premier League, Sporting Lisbon of the Portuguese Liga, Southampton in England’s second division Championship, and Torino in Italy’s Serie A were all reportedly interested in acquiring Buchanan.

In some cases, Brugge and the interested club couldn’t agree on a transfer fee or loan option (A player can be loaned to a different club while still playing on their existing contract. At the end of their loan, they can return to their old club, or their new club might have option to buy the player.)

In other cases, Buchanan decided against a move because he wasn’t convinced his new destination would benefit his development.

Buchanan has won a league title and helped Brugge to the knockout round of the UEFA Champions League in nearly two seasons in Belgium.

Over that time, Buchanan has played a variety of roles on the left and right side. But the Brampton, Ont., native is said to be focused on moving to a club that sees him in a right-back or right wingback role that would allow him to evolve his creativity in attack and speed in transition. 

Buchanan’s contract with Brugge runs until January 2025. Buchanan has five starts and two goals so far this season under new head coach Ronny Deila, although a hamstring injury this past weekend will likely leave Buchanan on the sidelines for four to six weeks.

The European window opens again for a month in January. And though rumours never guarantee movement in the complex transfer marketplace, the soccer world’s attention will still be focused on the future of Canada’s top talent.