Men's Team

Bernardo Silva: Champions in focus

Bernardo Silva is the latest City player to have his impact in our 2021/22 Premier League triumph assessed.

In this series, we take a closer look at each player in the first team squad and how they influenced yet another memorable campaign for the Blues – a team effort that saw us lift our sixth title in 11 seasons.

The Portuguese midfielder is a livewire in the heart of Pep Guardiola’s team and now has four Premier League titles to his name.

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Today, we take a closer look at his influence on City’s season.

SEASON STATS

Appearances (all competitions): 50

Goals: 13

Assists: 7

Premier League appearances: 35

Cumulative minutes: 3,950

SEASON HIGHLIGHTs

A wand of a left foot, combined with the boundless energy to drive the team on, has made Bernardo so integral to this side – especially so in the last two title triumphs.

The 27-year-old rarely turns in a below par performance, consistently contributing in and out of possession. However, in 2021/22, he found the knack of producing memorable strikes.

It’s almost impossible to pick one particular highlight, with three goals in particular all catching the eye and leaving fans in awe.

First, at Aston Villa in December, came the smoothest breakaway you’re ever likely to see. Having defended a set piece in our own box, Riyad Mahrez released Gabriel Jesus down the right. The Brazilian saw Bernardo bursting through the middle and lofted a pass perfectly into his path.

Without breaking stride, our number 20 volleyed high into the goal with just a delicate swish of his left foot.

Then came a thunderbolt at Sporting CP in the first knockout round of the Champions League. When a partially cleared ball looped high into the sky, there was hesitation on both sides.

Other than in Bernardo’s mind, of course. Meeting it on the half volley, the laces of his left boot powered the ball into the underside of the crossbar and then down and over the line.

Finally, and again with that famous left foot, was the strike against Real Madrid. In a frantic game played to an almost unimaginably high standard at the Etihad Stadium, Bernardo’s hit was perhaps the pick of the bunch.

Picking up the loose ball following a suspected foul on Oleksandr Zinchenko, Bernardo crept to the edge of the box and unleashed a hammer blow high into Thibaut Courtois’ goal – surprising everyone watching.

Had the result in the second leg been less devastating, the midfielder's drive from the halfway line and lay off for Riyad Mahrez's opener in the Bernabeu would have also been in keen consideration for his moment of the season.

OVERVIEW

As those highlights would suggest, our midfielder is never one to shy away from the big occasion.

Having played in 50 of the 58 matches in 2021/22, it’s clear he also has the trust of the coaching staff.

A selfless yet fiercely competitive mindset and supreme levels of physical fitness regularly sees him clock up more miles than any other player on the pitch.

His 380.9 kilometres covered in the Premier League saw him run further than any other City player, and the seventh further in the league overall.

That off-the-ball work is combined with a reliable first touch and close control dribbling skills that are the envy of the global game.

Playing for Pep Guardiola’s City requires courage to receive the ball in tight situations, a skill in which Bernardo is a master.

The footballing equivalent of a getaway driver, he can weave his way through a crowd of players of any size and emerge on the other side with the ball at his feet.

In fact, according to FBref, his 10.08 progressive carries per 90 minutes is the best of any midfielder or forward in Europe’s top five league over the last 365 days.

Often operating in the midfield three alongside Rodrigo and Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo can act in support of the attacking players or plugging gaps further back.

However, his 13 goals across all competitions in 2021/22 is his best return in his five seasons in Manchester, pointing to him being pushed further up the field by Pep Guardiola.

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Now with 11 trophies as a City player, our Portuguese midfield maestro is adored by the Club’s fans, coaches and staff.

WHAT THEY SAID

Pep Guardiola: "I don't know if Bernardo is the best player in the world and I don't care. What I see is an incredibly nice guy. It is a joy to work with him.

"He is an extraordinary player, absolutely.

"He is never going to win the Ballon d'Or because you have to be on social media, you have to not just win but score a lot of goals and Bernardo does not have that quality.

"If one day it will happen I would love it, I would be happy for him like any other player that we have here that one day would win the Ballon d'Or. I would be more than grateful to experience that award with him. For me, as a manager, he can do everything.”

Trevor Sinclair: “Any young player, thinking: ‘Look at his skill when he’s on the ball…’ That’s great but look at the other side of his game – his workrate as well. That is almost as important.

“He brings a smile to your face. You only have to watch a little clip of him in training or in the warm-up. He loves football, he’s passionate about it.

“I remember watching him for the first time – the Monaco game in the Champions League – and I couldn’t’ believe how good he was.

“He’s almost like a little leaf with the distance he travels and with the willingness to work tirelessly for the team, he’s such an unselfish player and you need players like that.”

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Andy Morrison: “His first touch is fantastic and he drifts inside but then the feel to put the ball into the top corner when the 'keeper’s got absolutely no chance… Again it’s every game we’re seeing this from Bernardo. Long may it continue.

“We’re in a really good moment. There are so many players in form. The bench will be itching to get on but Bernardo’s probably in the top two or three players in Europe at the moment.

“It’s the goals too, it’s the performance, it’s the energy… He starts the press and is rightfully getting the plaudits that he deserves.”

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