For over half a decade, David Silva has served Manchester City more than capably. Though, his 39 goals and 68 assists in 225 appearances haven’t quite encapsulated his importance to the two-time champions of England.
Arriving in England following a lucrative £25million move from Valencia in 2010, the then-24-year-old had been linked to transfers to Real Madrid and Chelsea before Manchester City. The Citizens swooped in and were the first to propose a contract for the midfielder, funded by billionaire Sheikh Mansour’s takeover in 2008. They were rewarded for their direct approach as Silva set pen to paper on a five-year deal.
The Spaniard made an instant impact at the club, first deployed on the right wing by Roberto Mancini before being shifted to a trequarista role in the latter half of his first season. Silva seamlessly linked midfield and attack, exercising his close ball control and extensive passing capabilities to fire City into a fifth place finish in the league.
Fast forward to 2017, David Silva has won the World Cup and the Euros twice; playing a pivotal role in Spain’s triumphs. Furthermore, the thirty-year-old has seemingly cemented his position in Pep Guardiola’s side, having achieved similar status under each of Manchester City’s three previous (permanent) managers. Yet, despite his solidarity, a new and exciting recruitment is made. A young player tipped to be ‘the next David Silva’.
Happy 30th birthday to David Silva. He's won:
2 Premier Leagues
1 Copa Del Rey
1 FA Cup
1 World Cup pic.twitter.com/5y25EjcpYD
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 8, 2016
Silva’s namesake, Bernardo Silva, emerged as a world-beater both in Monaco’s Champions League and domestic league campaigns, guiding Les Monégasques to the quarter-finals in Europe and their first Ligue 1 title in 17 years. After such a promising season, his footballing prowess was coveted by almost every side in Europe. Again, City got their way, swiftly constructing a contract and hefty pay packet for Bernardo Silva’s services.
The Portuguese midfielder shares striking similarities with his Spanish team-mate – having also operated both on the wing and in midfield. Additionally, he is able to perform with the same standards of dribbling and passing typical of David Silva.
In a young Monaco side, and at just 23 himself, Bernardo stepped up, contributing with a combined nine goals and as many assists in Europe and France. However, he is yet to be given the opportunity to do the same at his new club.
Silva’s longevity in his position, with his style of play, means he will most likely play for a number of years to come. Jamie Carragher recently suggested that “We may see him play until 35, 36” before going on to claim that David Silva is “One of the all-time greats of the Premier League”.
However, whilst David Silva’s form and inclusion in Guardiola’s selection continues, Bernardo will lack an opportunity to showcase his potential. Fleeting substitute appearances and the occasional cup game can’t compare to big European stages and nights where he previously showed his worth.
Given the opportunity, Bernardo has the potential to eclipse David Silva. Until given a chance, he will never reach these heights.
Whilst City’s No.21 has lost half a yard of pace, his adept dribbling capabilities have him on par with the best in the world. What he will lose as he ages, however, is an ability to split a packed defence.
Most passes completed in the the final third this Premier League season:
D. Silva (131)
M. Özil (125)
C. Eriksen (116)
K. De Bruyne (107) pic.twitter.com/SZGoWJvmNa
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 21, 2017
David Silva does his job excellently, as proved by his exemplary passing statistics. However, Bernardo’s movement with the ball before playing a pass makes him the better candidate for modern football. By surging forward and through midfield either from a central position or from the wing, Bernardo’s consistently positive play allows for short, penetrative passes into the feet of his teammates inside the box. Perfect for dealing with the league-wide problem of backs against the wall defending.
Though City are scoring goals for fun at the moment, you need only look at Liverpool or Arsenal’s frailties when attacking to see where problems can develop. If faced by a largely defensive team with every player back behind the ball, both teams struggle to break through. Despite elite playmakers such as Mesut Özil or a rusty Philippe Coutinho, the sheer volume of opposition players in and around the box makes scoring difficult.
To this problem, players like Bernardo Silva and Liverpool’s future midfielder Naby Keïta are the solution. Players who are renowned for taking one, two or even three players out of a game before setting up or scoring a goal themselves. It is this ability to create space on an exceptional level that will surely begin to elude David Silva in these, the later years of his career.
Players like Silva and Özil may soon become outdated, but that’s not to say they would be unable to do a job. The pairs’ ability far surpasses footballing trends. However, their influence and effectiveness will certainly decline as passing lanes become restricted by an ever-expanding, counter-attacking style of play which grows more popular by the season. By minimising the opposition’s chance creation whilst maximising their own ruthlessness in front of goal, more sides will begin to defeat opponents they should have no business beating.It is as this trend grows that Silva’s effectiveness will diminish.
One thing is for certain, it is time for the evergreen David Silva to be dropped.For the good of his reputation at the club, for the good of his side’s success, and for the good of Bernardo – Manchester City’s present and future.