By Brady Reid.
Before the 2019/20 Jupiler Pro League season kicked off, few around Europe had ever heard of Gent forward and Canadian international Jonathan David.
Since then, the 20-year-old striker has turned plenty of heads across the football world with his impressive conversion rates for both club and country, particularly at such a young age. Despite only coming onto the professional scene back in 2018, David’s progression in the Belgian league might have already plateaued in 2020.
His 18 goals domestically were good enough for joint top scorer in Belgium before the season was called off due to Covid-19. The Ottawa native also added three goals in the Europa League for Gent, including one against Italian giants Roma before they were ultimately eliminated in the round of 32.
For Canada, David has been a revelation in an area of the game they have notoriously struggled to have success—finding the back of the net.
His 11 goals for the North American nation have come in just 12 career caps, all within the past two years. Most notably, as a teenager last summer, he earned Golden Boot honours in the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup with six goals in just four appearances and three starts in the tournament.
As a result of his recent success, David has become one of the most coveted young players across the continent with transfer rumours gaining ground weekly. In a recent sitdown with Sky Sports, he expressed his desire to move on from Gent as he believes it is the right stage in his development to make the jump to the next level.
“It is time for the next step. For me to move somewhere I can keep getting better”
He only joined a professional club two and a half years ago, but Gent striker Jonathan David has catapulted himself into one of Europe’s most sought-after players.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) May 21, 2020
Although the young talisman noted a particular interest in the Bundesliga—perhaps with ambitions of joining his fellow countryman Alphonso Davies at Bayern Munich—dismissing any opportunity for him to land elsewhere in Europe seems short-sighted.
While David is a key part of Canada’s future alongside Davies, making the jump to the Bavarian giants or another club of similar stature mightn’t be as seamless as it has been for the Bayern left-back.
For now, the goal should simply be to secure consistent minutes for a team regularly competing for a European position in their respective league.
For the sake of spreading the wealth, we’ll also consider teams outside the Bundesliga as potential suitors for David’s services.
Before the bidding wars begin in the near future, here are a few sides in world football which should come calling.
A four-hour drive north of Munich and his fellow countryman, Leipzig is home to one of the more intriguing teams in Europe right now for David to consider.
RB Leipzig was founded just a decade ago and played in the fifth division of German football in 2009/10. Today they sit fourth in the Bundesliga and await an opponent in the Champions League quarterfinals after thrashing Tottenham Hotspur home and away in the round of 16.
Now under the guidance of the young innovative mind of manager Julian Naglesmann, Leipzig’s Gegenpressing style is a striker’s dream with the focus on winning the ball back as high up the pitch as possible.
Leipzig forward Timo Werner is currently the biggest beneficiary of his team’s tactics, having scored 30 goals in 38 matches across all competitions in 2019/20. However, considering his style of play and impressive conversion rate, it is no surprise that Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp are reportedly very keen on signing the German striker. With talks of Werner’s exit from the club dating back as far as last year, his departure seems imminent.
In search for a potential replacement for Werner, David provides as natural a replacement as any. With similar stature and goalscoring prowess, bringing the young Canadian to Die Roten Bullen has the potential to be a perfect marriage for both parties.
Sitting one spot below Leipzig in the Bundesliga table is another attractive German option for David in Leverkusen.
While Canadian supporters might not see this as the sexiest option for one of their brightest young stars, the fit for the Gent forward is as good as any.
With the ingenious Kai Havertz in their attack, the one thing Leverkusen lacks is a reliable number nine to get them goals. Kevin Volland currently has the most goals among natural forwards on the team this season with just nine, one fewer than Havertz has behind him in midfield.
Leverkusen has been ‘always a bridesmaid, never the bride’ domestically in recent memory, finishing Bundesliga runners-up five times in the past fifteen years.
If Die Werkself manage to hold on to Havertz after this season, bringing in David to lead the line could be the beginning of the Bundesliga’s next one-two punch as Leverkusen look to evolve into a true contender in German football.
Coming in as the biggest long shot of the bunch is London-based Premier League side, Arsenal.
Making the switch from Belgian to English football would surely be accompanied by some growing pains for David. Although, selfishly, the chance to see a Canadian playing in the world’s biggest league feels worth the risk for those back home.
Feeling the love ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Q6EwB6rv9A
— Jonathan David (@itsJoDavid) February 15, 2020
Between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, the Gunners aren’t currently without firepower, but given their lack of success in recent years, something clearly needs to change. With a fresh face at the helm in manager Mikel Arteta, Arsenal might look to do some significant housekeeping this summer.
Were Arteta and co. to move on from Lacazette and/or Aubameyang, an incoming attacker would find an immediate role in the first team up front. As one of the hottest goal scorers in Europe likely to be available, this wouldn’t be the first instance where David was linked with a move to the Emirates.