There were many great things about the night of Tuesday, 21st of February. A Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling madness. A thrilling comeback. The birth of Mbappé on the big scene. But perhaps one of the lesser recalled focal points of the night was the performance of the 22-year-old Portuguese midfielder, Bernardo Silva. Silva was brilliant on the ball and almost impossible to dispossess, constantly providing a thorn in City’s side. He’d be a big reason why Monaco won the return leg, too, getting an assist for the opening goal of the match. Last night, a flurry of bets were placed on Bernardo to join Manchester City, and the prices plummeted. This morning, we all woke up to the news that Bernardo Silva had landed in Manchester to complete a move to City. This really is what dreams are made of.
Often in football, we see players compared to those in the same position because of their nationality or skin tone. This is incredibly lazy. Perhaps the only thing that could be lazier is comparing players because they have the same name. In this case though, it is very easy to watch Bernardo Silva and see shades of David Silva. Bernardo is diminutive like David, but I think the similarities don’t come closer than the fact they share the same best asset on the pitch. Bernardo, like David, is incredibly adept at keeping the ball, in a way that he’s often surrounded by two or three opposition players yet he’ll still come out with the ball, in the same way we’ve seen David Silva play in his time here. It shouldn’t be a shock that Pep wants him then – the man himself said that David Silva was one of the reasons he joined the club, and signing a player so similar to him seems rather obvious.
Bernardo is direct, too. We saw it both in the game at the Etihad and you can see it throughout the season. He often goes on meandering runs with the ball, only to quickly change the entire pace of the game and bolt forward. This, coupled with his immunity to pressure and the fact he can pop up almost anywhere on the pitch, makes him a great Pep-style attacker. His pass completion for this Ligue 1 season was 81%, which isn’t bad considering the fact he doesn’t play in a pass obsessed team like Pep’s City, who on average play around 140 more passes per game than Jardim’s Monaco.
Moreover, last season both his assist (9) and goal (8) contributions to Monaco’s title winning side were not bad at all, especially considering, like David Silva, he is the master of what some people call ‘the pre-assist’. His passing range, both long and short is great too. Though some may have some reservations of the standard of Ligue 1, I wish to remind you that master of the transfer market and former Sevilla director of football, Monchi, loved Ligue 1, recruited several times from the league and ‘freely admitted’ that’s where he looks for players. Add to this Bernardo Silva’s performances against both City and Spurs, especially the Spurs game at Wembley where he scored a great goal which epitomises his overall play, and feel your fears allayed.
Anis Bazza on where Bernardo Silva will fit in:
When Pep Guardiola arrived, he tore up Manchester City’s imprint of wide-play makers that were such a feature under Pellegrini and Mancini and replaced them with direct and aggressive wingers. That move naturally placed more burden on David Silva to keep hold of the ball and circulate it. And when he didn’t, or just wasn’t there, Manchester City suffered. David Silva will win player of the season at City because there was no other midfielder who could do what he does. However, Bernardo Silva represents a player who can. Silva has operated from wide-right in a 4-4-2 for Monaco this season but he could be comfortably converted to the interior/attacking midfielder role Guardiola has forged for his playmakers this season. Not only is he an excellent dribbler but he is supremely intelligent and his direct runs and creativity have been a feature of Monaco’s play this season. Bernardo Silva might seem like a luxury signing but City need strength in depth in the creative department. And someone who can play on the wing who isn’t Jesus Navas or Nolito. Oh, and the heir to David Silva.
Already, Twitter has gone into meltdown. Blues are celebrating, everyone else is very upset. Some recognise that he’s a wonderful player and City will be all the better for signing him, and some are very upset that City haven’t first signed a defender or a goalkeeper. It’s as if we can’t sign more than one player, right? In any case, this deal is an incredible signal that Pep Guardiola a). was not happy with this season b). is not here to mess about. Last summer we bought some young players who have really impressed for us, and yesterday we shed some skin and allowed four of our older guard to leave. Bernardo Silva, at 22, represents a player who could stay at City’s peak for perhaps more than 10 years, a player of certified talent. Alongside Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling, City now have a quartet of absolutely brilliant young players to mix it with the big names of Agüero, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne. Everything about this deal is exciting. Bernardo Silva, gold standard.