By Martin Cleary
This could be the summer of Jonathan.
But it also could be a long summer for rising soccer star Jonathan David of Ottawa as he could be transferred to a next level team or not at all.
David, 23, will enter the fourth year of his five-year contract with LOSC Lille in 2023-24, unless France’s Ligue 1 team decides to move him over the next three months to another team, possibly in the English Premier League.
The timing seems right for Lille at least from a financial point of view.
Lille paid 30 million Euros ($43.3 million Canadian) to acquire David on Oct. 15, 2020 from Belgium’s KAA Gent.
The French club’s investment over the past three seasons has paid huge dividends as David has been a huge offensive power, shown extreme durability and his value on the international soccer market has reached 60 million Euros ($86.7 million Cdn).
According to the transfermarkt website, David is ranked among the world’s best players at No. 62, No. 6 among all Ligue 1 players, and No. 1 on Lille. While his projected transfer value stands at 60 million Euros, the 61 players ahead of him have greater value, which could make for a long summer as some higher-value players would likely be preferred before Lille could move David.
By comparison, the market value of soccer’s top three players goes like this: Norway’s Erling Haaland of Manchester City at 180 million Euros ($260 million Cdn.), France’s Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain at 180 million Euros and Brazil/Spain’s Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid at 150 million Euros ($216.7 million Cdn.). Canadian Alphonso Davies of Bayern Munich is ranked 41st at 70 million Euros ($101.1 Cdn.)
David has been a gold mine for Lille in the first three years of his contract, which earns him a reported 1.68 million Euros ($2.4 million Cdn) according to capology.com.
During the 2022-23 Ligue 1 season, the Gloucester Hornets/Ottawa Internationals product was third among regular-season scorers with 24 goals and four assists in 37 games. In his first two seasons, he played a total of 75 Ligue 1 games, scored 28 goals and added two assists.
Last season, he had seven multiple-goal games, which included a hat trick against Olympique Lyon.
A centre forward, David also started 95 per cent of Lille’s games, played in 93 per cent of the minutes and participated in 43 per cent of the team’s goals.
David was a fixture on the field, playing a full 90 minutes in 24 of his 37 games, and 80 minutes or more in 32 games. He missed only his second game with Lille on Feb. 1 against Clermont Font because of a hand injury.
Since joining Lille, the Louis-Riel high school grad’s value has steadily climbed, according to transfermarkt – 35 million Euros ($50.6 million Cdn.) on Jan. 4, 2021 to 50 million Euros ($72.2 million Cdn.) on Dec. 6, 2021 to 45 million Euros ($65 million Cdn.) on Nov. 2, 2022 to 60 million Euros ($86.7 million Cdn.) on March 27, 2023.
The Athletic reporter Joshua Kloke wrote David could be on the move to the Premier League, which would be his first choice, La Liga or Series A.
“It’s important to always be challenged, to never be in a comfort zone, to always be pushed,” Kloke quoted David in an interview.
CBS reporter Ben Jacobs wrote “Lille have determined they will look to sell Jonathan David this summer with a goal of securing 60 million Euros.”
In the past, Premier League teams Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have scouted David, but their priorities have shifted and may not step forward to acquire him.
During the 2022-23 season, David played a total of 48 games for Lille and the Canadian men’s team. He scored 31 goals and added seven assists in that span.
When David scored the first goal in a 2-0 win over Panama during the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals, not only was it the game-winner, but also it was the 25th international ‘A’ goal of his career. His left-footed strike inside the Panama box made him the second Canadian to score 25 goals on the international scene. Cyle Larin is the leader at 28 goals.
Since his debut with the Canadian men’s team on Sept. 9, 2018, he has scored 25 goals in 19 of his 41 cap appearances. That figure includes hat tricks against Cuba at the 2019 Gold Cup and Suriname at a FIFA World Cup qualifier.
David was the top goal scorer at the 2019 Gold Cup and is a former record holder for most goals in a season for Canada at eight. At 18, David became the youngest player to score in his debut with a pair of goals against the U.S. Virgin Islands in a Nations League qualifier.
In his fifth season with the Canadian men’s team, David has already scored three goals for Canada in 2023, four in 2022, seven in 2021, eight in 2019 and three in 2018.
When David scores for Canada it’s meaningful as the country has 17 wins and only two losses when he puts the ball in the net.
Interestingly, David has scored 12 of his 25 goals for Canada in the first half and the remaining 13 in the second half. When it comes to how he has scored his goals, he has a similar balance as well – 13 with the right foot, 11 with the left foot and one header.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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