Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has branded Bernardo Silva as “one of the best players in Europe” after his exploits in the Manchester Derby on Wednesday.
Silva, 24, was insatiable at Old Trafford as Guardiola’s gilded City ran amok against their neighbours, winning 2-0 to climb above Liverpool in the title race.
How good is Silva? Five key things to know…
- Signed from Monaco in the summer of 2017 for £43.5m, Silva has amassed 99 appearances for the Citizens.
- The Portugal international played a bit-part role as City cantered to the league title last season.
- This season, though, he has become one of Guardiola’s key players with 13 goals and eight assists in all competitions.
- His talismanic performances have yielded a place in the PFA Team of the Year as City look set to retain their PL title.
- Guardiola has now lauded the pint-sized magician as one of the continent’s best players.
Three points against their fierce rivals was enough to take the club back to the summit of the league table, where they now sit a point above the Reds with three matches remaining.
Silva’s opening goal in the 178th instalment of the historic derby came at the perfect time to alleviate nerves for the blue half of Manchester as the match was heavily poised before he broke the deadlock.
His low drive past David de Gea opened the floodgates for City and Leroy Sane went on to put the game beyond United’s reach. It was a memorable evening for the club and after the match, Guardiola couldn’t hide his admiration for Silva.
He told reporters: “Bernardo is a joyous guy. Of course, he can play right or left. For example, the game against Swansea City [in the FA Cup], he played as a left winger and he made the goal and an assist.
“It was offside, the goal from Sergio [Aguero], but he made the assist, and after he played as a holding midfielder. He can play as an attacking midfielder [as well], he’s such an intelligent player, with his work ethic.
“He’s a fighter. He’s one of the best players in Europe. One of the best.”
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It was his namesake David Silva who began the season more lively, but the Spaniard’s form has somewhat dipped since the turn of the year, while Bernardo has accelerated his burgeoning reputation.
The former Monaco man has played 45 times this season across all competitions, scoring 13 goals as well as registering eight assists in what is now his most prolific season in front of goal.
If Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling have been the trusty source of goals, then Silva has been the fulcrum of their success, elevating Guardiola’s side to new levels of invention.
But it’s not just his contributions in the final third that have caught the eye of his coach, but also his versatility and consistency.
Guardiola added: “Bernardo is having an incredible season, incredible. In the second half [against United] he played like a holding midfielder.
“A holding midfielder…Bernardo. It doesn’t matter, he fought with Paul Pogba and everyone. It’s not just [against United], it’s not just his goal, it’s all the season, it was a masterclass, a masterpiece every single game. It was incredible.”