Football News

“Everybody loves him” – Pep Guardiola hopeful Bernardo Silva remains at Man City amid homecoming rumours

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 12:30, 20 March 2024

Pep Guardiola has called Bernardo Silva “really important” amid reports of his time at Manchester City drawing to a close.

The Lisbon native relocated from boyhood club, Benfica, in 2017 and has less than two and a half years left on his present deal.

In their most recent outing, Silva was City’s man of the moment, a 2-0 win over Newcastle, which sent them into a sixth consecutive FA Cup semi-final.

Eddie Howe’s men were powerless as Silva netted a brace. Those efforts took him to 10 goals in all competitions this season. It is the third time he has reached double figures in a single campaign with Manchester City (13 goals in 2018-19 and 2021-22).

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“Everybody loves him and we want him. He’s really important for him to stay with us,” Guardiola said post match.

However, reports of Portuguese midfielder-cum-forward leaving for new pastures or returning home continue to grow, while Silva conceded he would not finish his career with the current English champions.

“Is it a long time before I return? I think people are a little tired of that question. There’s already more time left. I’m sure I’ll be back, I don’t know when,” he told SIC when asked about returning to Benfica.

“It’s difficult to time it and say if it’s in two, three, if it’s for the year with Roger Schmidt [laughs]. But I’ve said it several times and I think people get tired of hearing it: without a doubt it’s a career and life goal to return to Benfica.

“Get me into something difficult position. On the one hand, he asks me to return to Benfica and on the other he asks me to say bad things about Benfica’s coach. Imagine that I come back next year and he is my coach? It can’t be [laughs].”

Guardiola is hopeful of a long Silva stay because of his versatility. During this season, he’s been utilised in six positions, with the RW spot being Silva’s most prominent berth.

He’s played there 14 times in all competitions (two goals, two assists), with attacking midfield (12 appearances: four goals, one assist), central midfield (three appearances: two goals, two assists), right midfield (one appearance), centre-forward (one appearance: one goal) and defensive midfield (one appearance) the other positions Guardiola has deployed him in.

Bernardo Silva’s positions and minutes played in 2023/24 Premier League season

“Bernardo is so important for us, for me personally because of the relationship I have with him,” Guardiola said earlier this season.

“Always I like to have relations. Tight relations with some players is possible, for the other ones is not because everyone has his own character, myself first. Bernardo is so special. “And, of course, he’s an adaptive player, can play in a few positions, many, many positions.

“He’s a huge competitor. He loves to win. He’s incredibly hungry…and upset. It doesn’t look like that from the outside. But when he loses a game or misses a pass or simple things, he’s angry with himself because he’s so competitive.

“When we need a winger with more speed, I would play with Jeremy [Doku] for example or before him Leroy [Sane]. When you need a winger when you have the ball, like Riyad [Mahrez] or himself, who gives you extra time to join the team, join the structure, he’s so good.He’s a really interesting player and defensively as well. And last season he played as a left-back against [Bukayo] Saka in Emirates.

“He can play in many, many positions. He’s so intelligent. He would have been a big loss this season after Gundo [Ilkay Gundogan], Riyad [Mahrez], Ayme [Laporte] left. “He and Kyle [Walker] [leaving] would have been a big, big loss. Fortunately we can have him one more year.”