“Portuguese playmaker, Bernardo Silva, finds himself in space and drives towards Luke Shaw before quickly shifting inside to snap a shot into the corner past the slow David De Gea”. Silva has been a revelation this season for Manchester City, a player Pep Guardiola has repeatedly stated: “Right now it is Bernardo Silva and 10 others”. When you dig deeper, it’s not difficult to understand why.
Last night, Guardiola bemoaned that Silva produces a masterpiece every week. He isn’t wrong, Silva has excelled and devoted himself to becoming a complete midfielder and deservedly claimed his spot as one of the best players in Europe.
After a phenomenal season in 2016/17 with AS Monaco where he was integral to their first Ligue 1 title since 1999/2000 and unexpected Champions League Semi-Final run in, Manchester City splashed out £43.5m for his signature.
The diminutive figure with a slight frame found limited opportunities and a lack of consistency in the squad. As a result, he found it difficult to integrate himself into both the Premier League and City’s dauntingly competitive side during his first season with the Blues.
The narrative quickly changed as 2018/19 began. Silva started out as a right-sided central midfielder, in place of the injured Kevin De Bruyne. His quality and confidence didn’t take long to show as his customary probing with intelligent movement and careful grace of the ball made him indispensable to the team from the get-go.
Renowned for his technical dribbling and ability to pick a pass, it’s his intelligence and understanding of the game that is easy to understate. Seemingly always knowing what decision to take, whether to dribble or pass, tackle or stay on his feet. It’s this level of concentration that Guardiola demands from his players week in week out, and what makes Silva so special.
His direct output has been 13 goals and 12 assists in a free-scoring City side that has seen them break their own record by scoring 157 goals in all competitions. But rarely do you see such a technically gifted player busting his lungs off the ball in defensive transition. Against Liverpool in January, he ran an incredible 13.7km with relentless pressing off the ball, the most by any player in the Premier League this season. Just take a look at the scenes in north-west England.
Against Liverpool in January, he ran an incredible 13.7km with relentless pressing off the ball, the most by any player in the Premier League this season. Just take a look at the scenes in north-west England.
The skillful midfielders’ precision with the ball doesn’t seem to compromise him of accurate tackles either. In that same game, he managed 10 recoveries, again, more than any other player. A player that can do it all whilst running like a madman? Now that’s a managers dream.
He has been decisive when it matters most. Like assisting Sergio Aguero in the 2-1 victory over Liverpool in January, scoring the first in the derby last night, or simply keeping City’s hopes of a treble alive against Swansea in the FA Cup. In that game, he went on to produce a remarkable second-half display with his goal and assist helping City overcome a 2-0 half-time deficit.
With four games left, City have the chance to claim two more titles. Whether that will happen or not, I’m sure Silva will play an important role once again. The fact is, he has played a huge part all season in one of the most complete campaigns seen by any player in the Premier League whilst adding a touch of class to anything he’s touched.
Essentially what we’ve seen this season is a small man with bad intentions. Whether he’s been terrorizing your full back inside and out or beating a bustling defender to a tackle, one thing is for sure, Silva has always left with the ball at his feet, with one unique exception…