ANALYSIS – The Jonathan David move has felt inevitable for a long time given his contributions to Lille OSC.
Jonathan David: Where Should he Go Next?
Since LOSC Lille won the Ligue 1 title over a year ago, the transfer of Jonathan David from the club has felt more like an inevitability each passing day. Despite the massive achievement of dethroning Paris Saint-Germain, it took just two days for an exodus to begin at Lille. Christophe Galtier stepped down from his position as head coach, joining then-sixth-place OGC Nice on a deal that doubled his salary. Not long after, Boubakary Soumaré and Mike Maignan were sold at a relatively modest rate.
The champions then began their title defence by winning just five of their first 19 games this season. Star winger Jonathan Ikoné jumped ship to ACF Florentina in the January transfer window. Things were looking grim at Lille, be it for Jonathan David’s league-leading 12 goals. On the back of the Canadian’s three goals in the final three games of the group stage, they also found themselves in the Champions League Round of 16 against Chelsea.
Jonathan David’s transfer value
David’s transfer value was at an all-time high of $55 million USD and rumours were swirling around the striker: Liverpool, Arsenal, and West Ham were all heavily linked. With the summer transfer window now open, the situation has changed significantly. Liverpool spent over $100 million on Darwin Nunez and neither West Ham nor Arsenal qualified for the Champions League. David’s transfer value has ever-so-slightly dropped to $49.5 million after a tough second half for both the player and the club, as Lille finished tenth.
What hasn’t changed is that Jonathan David’s transfer still seems inevitable: plenty of clubs still need a striker, David will be looking to play at the highest level possible with the upcoming mid-season World Cup, and teams will be looking to avoid paying the tax that comes with a good performance at the sport’s most prestigious competition.
Let’s take a look at the most likely landing spots for Jonathan David this summer.
The European giants are truly back.
I Rossoneri won their first scudetto in over a decade this year and have quietly built one of the best young teams in Europe. David could join former teammates Mike Maignan and Renato Sanches, who has reached a verbal agreement with the club, according to Fabrizio Romano.
Milan boasts a core of Rafael Leāo, Sandro Tonalo, Theo Hernández, Fiyako Tomori, as well as the aforementioned Maignan and Sanches – and they are all signed through 2024. Paolo Maldini is building a project here. David would slot in nicely as a number nine or alongside Oliver Giroud.
There hasn’t been any concrete interest from Milan, but there have been reports from Italian outlets such as Gazzeto dello Sport stating that David is on the radar of the champions.
Milan looks like they can guarantee David Champions League appearances for the prime years of his career. They have plenty of emerging superstars who are dedicated to the project and will be able to attract more. The prospect of Johnny getting crosses from Hernandez and playing next to Leao is a tantalizing one. I am personally advocating for this move to go through.
In an interview with David’s academy coach at Louis-Riel, Joé Fournier mentioned that he sees Barcelona as the Ottawa native’s dream club. He does have ties to the club – He practiced one summer with FC Barcelona’s academy in Ottawa. David would be a natural fit in Xavi’s system as he is a gifted finisher who thrives in build-up play. The collection of U23 talent at Barcelona – Pedri, Ansu Fati, Gavi, and Ferran Torres – is arguably unparalleled in club football.
This move looks unlikely to happen this summer as Robert Lewandowski has reportedly signed a three-year deal with the Culers. However, that opens up a spot at Bayern Munich…
It is not clear whether the Bavarians view the reportedly incoming Sadio Mane as a replacement for Lewandowski or are still looking for an orthodox number nine. The Senegalese forward has played as a striker before, but never on his own.
Enter Jonathan David.
There are obvious links here with Davies at the club, but David would also be a natural fit for Julian Nagelsmann’s counter-pressing system. According to Tifo Football, the Canadian’s 19.75 pressures per 90 rank him in the 92nd percentile of European forwards. He would also have the opportunity to learn from one of the most intelligent forwards of our generation, the raumdeuter, Thomas Müller.
Alphonso Davies & Jonathan David have been shortlisted for the 2021 Concacaf Men’s Player of the Year Award! 🍁
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) February 4, 2022
Unfortunately, the thrilling prospect of David and Davies linking up in Bavaria seems to be at least a few years from fruition. I’m not sure if David has the profile yet to replace someone like Lewandowski. With that being said, Bayern has made a habit in recent years of purchasing talent before they reach their peaks: Ajax starlets Ryan Gravenberch (20) and Noussair Mazraoui (24) have been the club’s first two signings of the summer. Davies, Goretzka, Gnabry, and Upamecano also come to mind.
This move looked a lot more likely at the beginning of 2022. There were reports from sites in England almost every day linking the Gunners to David. Things have cooled off significantly, largely due to Arsenal’s well-documented interest in Gabriel Jesus.
It looks like the English club could complete a £50 million move for the Man City forward as early this week, which leaves David without a realistic suitor for the time being. It’s a shame really, as he could have been a good fit for manager Mikel Arteta, who has a similar desire to Nagelsmann to win the ball high up the pitch. Arsenal also possesses an array of young talent: Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Ødegaard, and Emile Smith Rowe are all emerging Premier League stars.
Jesus possesses a similar profile to David and is likely to be Arsenal’s number nine for the foreseeable future.
There are several other potential landing spots for the 22-year-old: Aston Villa, Newcastle, West Ham, Inter Milan, and RB Leipzig have all been brought up in the Canadian media as options.
This week, Lille has hired Paulo Fonseca, who took AS Roma to the Europa League semi-finals in 2021 and won three Ukrainian Premier Leagues with FC Shakhtar Donetsk. There is a chance he remains on the roster – he has one season left on his contract. However, the summer window has just begun and David is one of the top young forwards available.