If there was any doubt in Jonathan David’s mind about transferring to Lille Olympique Sporting Club, it was erased after his first goal with the club.
The Canadian scored 35 minutes into Lille’s 2-1 scrimmage loss to Stade Brestois 29 on Sunday. David, who grew up in Ottawa, told media on Wednesday that scoring in his first appearance was exactly what he needed in his Ligue 1 debut.
“As a striker, I want to score every chance I get,” said David. “The fact that I scored in my first game with the team it gives me confidence to keep it going and believe that I can do it again the next game.”
David’s transfer from KAA Gent, where he was tied for the lead in goals in the Belgian league with 18, to Lille was confirmed on Aug. 11.
Lille, which plays in of France’s Ligue 1, was the winner among a handful of competing teams for his services, including sides in Germany’s Bundesliga and England’s Premier League. David was coy on Wednesday about which clubs had been in the mix but did mention that Monchengladbach was interested.
The transfer is a Canadian-record transfer fee of 30 million euros ($46.8 million), according to a source not authorized to speak on the record.
The previous Canadian record transfer was Alphonso Davies’ move to Bayern Munich from the Vancouver Whitecaps. That July 2018 deal involved a fixed transfer fee and additional compensation that could total more than $29.25 million.
What drew the 20-year-old David to Lille was the opportunity to keep growing as a player with a young, competitive team.
“I think Lille is a club that gives a lot of chances to young players,” he said. “I wanted to go somewhere where I knew I could keep getting better, could keep playing.”
Finishing near the top of Ligue 1’s table — Lille finished fourth in 2019-20, 19 points behind No. 1 Paris Saint-Germain — and excelling in the Europa League are two of David’s ambitions for the coming season.
David also looked to the past, again thanking Gent and its fans for taking a chance on him as a teenaged prospect.
“It’s never easy [to leave] because it’s my first professional club, that’s where I started my professional career as a player,” said David. “They took me in and gave me the opportunity to play. It’s never easy. It’s always going to be a part of my journey and that was really the first step.”