Bernardo Silva, a flashy Portuguese midfielder was the talking point of AS Monaco’s title-winning team in 2016-17. He helped Monaco for their dream run in UEFA Champions League by knocking Manchester City out of the competition.
Pep Guardiola without any hesitation snapped up the opportunity to bring the Portuguese at the Etihad in 2017. Manchester City reportedly paid €50 million which could reach €70 million with add-ons for his services. Bernardo signed a 5-year contract and has gone on to win 3 League titles in meantime.
After the upset in last season’s UEFA Champions League final, the rumors are circulating around Bernardo Silva’s transfer away from Manchester City and Premier League. Let us see why letting him go could be a mistake for Pep Guardiola and his men.
BERNARDO SILVA’S VERSATILITY
Bernardo Silva is the most versatile player in the current Manchester City squad. Playing as a right-sided midfielder in his Monaco days, Silva has played as a centre attacking midfielder in Pep Guardiola’s squad for the majority of his City career. Bernardo Silva always performs wherever the manager asks him to play. He has successfully played as a left-winger in absence of Leroy Sane, centre mid in absence of either Ilkay Gundogan or Kevin De Bruyne and his stint as a False 9 helped Pep Guardiola to win 4th Carabao Cup and reach the Champions League final for the first time in club’s history.
There have been occasions where Bernardo also had to fill in as auxiliary left wing-back and defensive midfielder for the blues from Manchester. Be it any formation, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, or even 3-4-3; Bernardo finds himself playing in any lineup Pep Guardiola prefers.
His versatility is second to none in Manchester City’s squad, with only Phil Foden and Oleksandr Zinchenko able to play so many positions, both are nowhere to the Portuguese’s level. Pep Guardiola will surely regret selling Bernardo Silva when one of his star players hits an injury.
WORK RATE AND AWARENESS
Pep Guardiola has been able to play his free-flowing football at Manchester City successfully and Bernardo Silva’s work rate is the reason it has worked out to its perfection. Bernardo Silva always leads the press when Manchester City are defending. Although the stats may not tell you this, Bernardo Silva is one of the most important players in Manchester City right now. The work he does on, and perhaps more importantly off the ball is absolutely crucial for their current style of play.
For instance, in 2018-19, Bernardo covered the most ground in the Manchester City squad. His tireless running helped the club from Eastlands to clean sweep domestic treble. In a match against Liverpool, he successfully marked Andrew Robertson by working as a pseudo fullback.
Whenever City needs to stay cautious at the back, Pep Guardiola asks Gundogan to join in defensive duties alongside Fernandinho or Rodri. It provides Bernardo license to play centrally as a second striker to either Jesus or Aguero. Due to the presence of Bernardo in the box, De Bruyne has more options to look for in the box and it also frees up the space for Jesus or Aguero.
As experienced in Champions League games this season, Bernardo dropped deep from the false 9 positions to let De Bruyne attack from the front. Against Manchester United, Bernardo Silva’s role as a false 9 provided more room for wingers to get into favoring positions in the box.
Phil Foden is still a raw talent and City will have to wait for a while until he reaches Bernardo’s level. Hence, Bernardo’s ability to adapt will be missed in clutch games if he leaves for adventures in other leagues.
Manchester City is filled with far too many injury-prone players like Benjamin Mendy, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Gabriel Jesus, and Kevin De Bruyne. Pep Guardiola has had to play few players out of position to fill in the gaps left by injured players. This season, Bernardo successfully filled in at striker, while in 18-19 season; he stepped up his game in absence of De Bruyne and City hardly felt their star man’s absence.
Former Benfica graduate has an excellent record of staying injury-free throughout his career. Since his transfer to England, he has missed only 6 games in 4 years due to injury. The highest time he spent recovering was 22 days for a muscle injury in September 2020. He has capped more than 30 league appearances every season except 20-21 where he appeared in 26 games as he missed 4 consecutive games due to the above-mentioned injury. On top of that, he appeared in all the 13 Champions League games for City this season, starting in 12 of them and failing to complete 90 minutes on only 2 occasions.
Other alternatives on his position are De Bruyne who has missed a total of 44 games since Bernardo arrived at Manchester City. Ilkay Gundogan has missed 14 games since the Portuguese arrived in England. At this rate, Bernardo Silva’s importance increases even more as he has always delivered whenever called up by his manager in absence of other important players in Manchester City.
EVERYONE LOVES HIM
Bernardo Silva is loved by everyone working at Manchester City. Club legend Vincent Kompany regards Silva as one of the best dressing room partners he has had in his career. Bernardo Silva helped his fellow countrymen Ruben Dias and Jao Cancelo to quickly settle in the club. Zinchenko, Ederson, and De Bruyne adore Bernardo for his cheerfulness and his ability to get rid of tensions in the room. Bernardo helped his former AS Monaco teammate Mendy to feel comfortable at the club despite his track of repeated injuries.
“We always have a quick connection, we know each other very well,” Riyadh Mahrez said to the press. “We don’t even need to scream or speak to each other; we know where we are. Bernardo, Kevin when he plays, we all know each other, it was so good. “We train so good we know the movement and we try everything together so sometimes we don’t need to speak.”
In the world of modern football, it is difficult for managers to find a guy as grounded as Bernardo to keep the dressing room together and the current City manager acknowledges this fact about Bernardo Silva.
“What a player is all I can say,” said Pep when asked about Bernardo. “Everything he does, he does incredibly well. The year we won a second Premier League title in a row, he was unstoppable and now he is back. “He is a lovely person and as a manager you love to have players like Bernardo.”
When you have a squad full of stars with the most vocal person (Fernandinho) aging and possibly playing lesser than others, it is crucial for Pep Guardiola to hold a dressing room figure like Bernardo Silva at the club.