Jonathan David is on the radar of Arsenal and Manchester United after starring for Gent… but who is the prolific Brooklyn-born 20-year-old set to cost £21m in the summer?
- Jonathan David has enjoyed incredible season with 18 goals in 22 league starts
- He has been linked with £21m summer move to Man United, Arsenal and others
- David was born in New York, before moving to Haiti and then finally to Canada
- He plays for Canada national team and his agent says he’ll leave Gent this year
Although the January transfer window is done and dusted, the work never stops for clubs in their constant pursuit of the next big thing.
Belgium is proving to be a hot-bed of young, exciting talent and the next man off their conveyor belt could well be Gent forward Jonathan David.
He has been linked with Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton in recent weeks after impressing in a prolific season in the Belgian First Division… but who is he?
Here, Sportsmail takes a look at the exciting 20-year-old as he continues to be tipped for a Premier League move come the summer…
Jonathan David has enjoyed huge season for Gent in the Belgian top flight and Europa League
Although both his parents are Haitian, David was born in the New York suburb of Brooklyn when his mother inadvertently gave birth while stateside visiting family.
When he was three months old, the trio moved back to Port-au-Prince… and although David is technically a US citizen, he was never likely to stay in the country. ‘My father and mother had no plans to stay in the States,’ he said in an interview with Belgian magazine SPORT. ‘After my birth we lived in New York for a few months and then we returned to Haiti.’
At the age of six, David’s parents were back on the move again, this time to Canada and more specifically Ottawa, where they settled down and sent their son to Francophone public school Louis-Riel.
He moved over from Canada at the age of 18 to join Gent, but is set to up sticks again this year
It was there that his love for football became apparent, and he cites this as a reason for his current success. ‘It helped to always have the ball at my feet when I was at Louis Riel,’ he notes.
Growing up, there was never a desire to play professional football in North America, and he wasn’t an avid watcher of MLS. Instead, his eyes were firmly focused on Europe and where he felt his future lied.
When he was 10 years old he began playing football for Gloucester Dragons Soccer in Canada, before moving to Ottawa Gloucester a year later. In 2016, Ottawa Internationals were his next destination, before Gent came calling in 2018.
He signed a professional deal with the Belgian club at the age of 18 and is now in his second season in the country’s top flight.
David fires the ball home against Saint-Etienne in the Europa League earlier this season
What position does he play?
David has scored seven goals in his last five appearances, and impressively he has played in four different positions across those games. Such is his versatility, the 20-year-old is an attacker but can play anywhere across the front line.
In the last month, he has played on the right of a front three, the left of a front three, and as part of a two-man strike partnership in both a 4-3-1-2 and a 4-4-2.
He takes penalties for Gent and netted an impressive hat-trick last time out in his side’s 4-1 victory over mid-table St. Truiden.
Despite his lack of experience, David has taken to Belgian football like a duck to water and is one of the first names on manager Jess Thorup’s team-sheet.
David has played all across the front-line for Gent this season, netting three last time out
What are people saying about him?
Only good things. This week, one Twitter user wrote that ‘the future of Canadian football is in good hands’, before listing a number of incredible stats. The most goals for Canada in a single year, top scorer at the 2019 Gold Cup, current top scorer in the Belgian top flight… the list goes on.
Elsewhere, another fan questioned whether David could be the long-term successor for Alexandre Lacazette at Arsenal following rumours linking him with the Gunners. While that would be a huge step up, there is certainly potential in the future.
His agent, meanwhile, is one of those trying to quell the hype: ‘He has been a childhood fan of Barcelona,’ he said in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws.
‘Real Madrid, Man United and Chelsea are just as much part of his dreams, but for the time being we must remain humble: the next step in his career cannot be too big.’
‘Without a doubt: Jonathan is ready for the next step. Gent has boosted his career, the club did a lot for him. I understand that they would like to keep him longer, but Jonathan wants to go ahead. The Belgian league is fantastic for young players, but the moment for the next step arrives and this will come in the summer.’
His agent says he is likely to move on in the summer, but exactly where is as yet unclear
So who’s interested in signing him?
Well, we know that he’s likely to go in the summer, as per the comments from his agent, but to where?
It will be interesting to see whether David’s representatives stick to their word and hold back a move to a top-four club in favour of a stepping stone slightly lower down the table.
United and Arsenal have both been credited with an interest, while another rumoured club in Everton could well be a more viable option come the summer.
David is still only 21 and has very much been operating in the shadow of Alphonso Davies in the spectre of young Canadian football talent. He is ready to break free now, though, and where he heads next is massively important for his development.
Mikel Arteta has given lots of young talent game-time this season and Arsenal are interested
Where would he fit in best?
There are arguments to be made for both Manchester United and Arsenal, given the fact that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mikel Arteta respectively have given youth a chance this season.
The likes of Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka have come through in north London, while United have given plenty of minutes to Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams among others.
An experienced coach like Carlo Ancelotti at Everton would also bring its positives, helping him integrate himself into the world of the Premier League. Leicester are another club that have scouted him and would be interested.
Given his hype and the level of support at Manchester United and Arsenal, the pressure would be incredibly high if he arrived at one of those so-called top clubs for a hefty fee in the summer.
David is a pacey and lethal striker who has been at the top of his game for Gent this season
Why has he stood out this season?
Goals, predominantly. He is netting near enough every week, and that’s what makes the headlines across Belgium and beyond. So far this season, David has 18 goals in 22 starts in the Belgium Pro League, with an additional two strikes in the Europa League.
But it’s not only a goal every 107 minutes that has boosted his reputation… he also has eight assists, and there are plenty of scouts that have him firmly on their radar.
He attracted a £5million bid from Porto which was rejected out of hand in January, and Gent expect to get upwards of £20m for his services if he keeps improving at his current trajectory.
Gent are still in the Europa League, with the second leg of their last 32 tie against Roma to come on Thursday.
Sportsmail understands Manchester United have a scout heading to watch him in that game.
Manchester United will scout him this week when Gent play Roma in the Europa League last 32
Does he play international football?
He certainly does, and he’s been mightily impressive too. First featuring for the Under 15s, he has since moved up through the U16s, U17s – under the stewardship of former Tottenham midfielder Paul Stalteri – and U23s, before making his senior debut at the age of 18.
He lined up against the U.S. Virgin Islands, and scored twice in an 8-0 rout – the perfect start to a potentially very exciting international career. He turned down advances from the USA to focus on Canada, and now has 11 goals in 12 matches.
Speaking ahead of his international debut, he said: ‘I want to do something special… with this group of players and the country we can take Canada somewhere it hasn’t been for a long time.
‘It is the best feeling in the world because I get to play representing my country and do something special.’
He netted six goals at the 2019 Gold Cup, finishing as the tournament’s top goalscorer, and has spoken often of his desire to take the national team to a World Cup during his career.
With he and Alphonso Davies the big names in the team, and a squad with the majority of players under the age of 25, the future is certainly bright in Canadian football.
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