Bernardo Silva – The Magician’s Apprentice

David Silva is a Manchester City icon and arguably the greatest footballer to wear the illustrious City shirt. For almost a decade, El Mago has displayed quality performances season after season, and it is those consistently great performances that have established him as a true Premier League legend and undoubtedly, the greatest Spaniard to ever grace English football. 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 20: David Silva of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at Etihad Stadium on December 20, 2014 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Now 33 years old, David Silva has reached the twilight of his career and is undoubtedly still a world-class player. However, in recent months his performances have dropped in quality, less than stellar performances against Liverpool and Arsenal whilst competing for a place in the starting eleven with Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and an in-form Ilkay Gundogan has led to him being benched unusually often in recent months, however, another injury to Kevin De Bruyne has led to him regaining his status as the first name on the team sheet.

This is likely to be David Silva’s penultimate season in the premier league and he is likely to leave the club at his current contract’s expiration at the end of the 2019/20 season, as he has repeatedly expressed his desire to retire at his local team: Las Palmas. When the day comes for him to leave Manchester, David Silva is a shoo-in for a tear-jerking testimonial, he will leave City as a legend and an icon of the club.

Bernardo Silva was a vital member of the 2016/17 AS Monaco side which dominated Ligue 1 whilst also reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League and the Coupe de France as well as the final of the Coupe de la Ligue. Following the remarkable season, AS Monaco were subsequently raided for their best players and after impressing against City in the Champions League in 2017, and the Portuguese international was signed for a reported fee of £43 million, although a large fee, the sheer quality that Bernardo Silva has displayed since he signed for the blues more than validates it, furthermore, the large fee is entirely justifiable when compared to the transfer fees of players who were signed for more money, but lack the quality of Silva such as Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jorginho.  

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 21: Fernandinho of Manchester City takes on Bernardo Silva of AS Monaco during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Manchester City FC and AS Monaco at Etihad Stadium on February 21, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Not dissimilar to David Silva, Bernardo Silva experienced a relatively slow start to his City career, alike Silva, however, after a few months, Bernardo had adapted to the physicality of the Premier League and by the end of the season, he was a crucial member of the squad. Bernardo Silva appeared in an impressive 53 matches in his debut season, his versatility led him to be played in both wide and central attacking positions throughout the season and with David Silva missing many games due to personal reasons, Bernardo Silva proved to be indispensable.

Bernardo Silva’s performances in his debut season were very good, however, this season he has been outstanding, De Bruyne’s injuries and Sane’s fluctuating form has led to Silva becoming an integral player for the blues. Alike, David Silva, Bernardo is capable of masterfully playing in both central and wide attacking positions, this has allowed him to challenge for a starting position in several positions on the pitch, he has played centrally in-place of the injured De Bruyne and through his excellent form out wide, he has managed to oust Sane from being an automatic starter.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 11: David Silva of Manchester City celebrates with teammate Bernardo Silva after scoring his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The 2017/18 season saw Bernardo Silva establish himself as an important player for City and throughout it, he was touted as a future replacement for David Silva, however, there is one game that proved that he is indeed, David Silva’s heir in the Manchester City midfield. On January 3rd, 2019, Manchester City faced Liverpool in a match that may prove crucial in the title race, in what must surely be the most thrilling and important match of the season. As expected with De Bruyne not fully fit, David Silva started the game, however, David’s impact on the game was excellently suppressed by Wijnaldum and Henderson and after Liverpool’s equaliser, David Silva was hauled off, when a goal is desperately needed this has been an unthinkable option for almost 10 years, to be replaced by Ilkay Gundogan, this tactical alteration gave Bernardo Silva license to roam freely in the final third, and this tipped the game in City’s favour having already assisted Aguero’s opening goal, Silva was unplayable and in a definitive changing of the guard moment, when David couldn’t perform, Bernardo stepped up. Changing of the guard moment. 

Bernardo Silva is arguably City’s player of the season and unarguably the most underrated player in the league, Pep Guardiola has referred to him as “undroppable” and his excellent form since his arrival has seen him rewarded with a 6-year contract. Bernardo Silva’s work-rate, pure skill and consistent man of the match performances have helped to establish himself a key cog in the ruthless machine that is Manchester City’s attack, his contributions since he arrived in Manchester have seen him become a firm fan favourite and with youth and endless ability on his side, it is not unfathomable that his legacy may one day eclipse the legacy of the legendary David Silva himself.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 01: Bernardo Silva of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and AFC Bournemouth at Etihad Stadium on December 1, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Whilst David Silva is still widely recognised as world-class, his oft sub-par performances this season has signalled the commencement of his decline, and it is only a matter of time until his place in the team is replaced by Bernardo Silva. Since 2010, the combination of Silva and silverware has become synonymous with Manchester City, and with the emergence of Bernardo Silva, this looks set to continue for many years.

You can follow the author on Twitter here: @BrandonEvans_18

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