Alphonso Davies’ goal of the year was a reminder he could be Canada’s athlete of the year again

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When Alphonso Davies won the Lou Marsh award in 2020, jointly accepting the honour of Canada’s athlete of the year with then Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the Bayern Munich man was the only Canadian men’s soccer player who came up in discussions by the voting committee.

That is unlikely to be the case next Wednesday, when members of Canadian sports media decide who will take home this year’s award.

Davies, 21, will still be the headliner when it comes to Lou Marsh candidacy from the Canadian men’s team. But he won’t be alone.

  • There’s striker Cyle Larin, who scored twice against Mexico in Canada’s monumental win over the region’s historical elite in Edmonton last month. That tied him with Dwayne DeRosario atop the Canadian men’s career scoring list with 22 goals, and it took Larin 37 fewer games to reach the milestone. The 26-year-old is also challenging the world’s elite in terms of production in World Cup qualification, with his 11 goals behind just United Arab Emirates’ Ali Mabkhout (14), England’s Harry Kane (12) and the Netherlands’ Memphis Depay (12).

The Brampton native’s club team, Besiktas J.K., also claimed the Turkish Super Lig crown and the Turkish Cup, with Larin leading the team with 23 goals in all competitions between 2020 and 2021.

  • There’s striker Jonathan David, 21, who has become an elite striker in Europe this season. His club team, Lille, won France’s Ligue 1 this year. David has 21 goals in 35 league games, and leads the league with 10 this season. The rate at which David is putting ball in the back of the net for club and country have those around the Ottawa-raised forward wondering what’s next for a player that is quickly making himself known overseas.
  • A player that has long been elite, and who has been overlooked in the Lou Marsh conversation over the years, is Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan. Canada’s most capped player as of last month, Borjan has played in Europe since 2009 and has backstopped the national team since 2011. But this is not a mention based solely on the 34-year-old’s legacy. Borjan was alongside Larin at the club level, captaining Besiktas to its Turkish Super Lig and Turkish Cup victories in 2021. He has been the heart of the Canadian team through its ongoing World Cup qualification campaign, leading the team talks off the field and stopping shots on it.

Still, Davies, one of the most exciting emerging players in the world, will headline the conversation.

He is valued at €180 million, or $260 million, in a study conducted by the Swiss-based CIES Football Observatory, making him the most valuable player born after 2020 in Europe’s top five leagues. He won the German Bundesliga, the German Super Cup, the UEFA Super and the FIFA Club World Cup with Bayern Munich in 2021.

And his national team, Canada, is on its way to clinching the country’s first World Cup berth since 1986. Some in Canadian soccer circles would argue that Davies’ individual effort against Panama at BMO Field in October — a world-class goal that saw him strip a ball off a Panamanian defending despite starting his sprint dozens of yards away — was a stunning enough moment to earn Davies the award all on its own.

But he will have competition, after a banner year for the men’s national team, which will hope to secure its place at Qatar 2022 by next March.

The list of Lou Marsh contenders should reflect that emergence.

This is second in the series taking a look at this year’s Lou Marsh contenders:

Part 1: Leylah Fernandez rose to the occasion at the U.S. Open

Today: Men’s soccer stars step into the spotlight

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