Bernardo Silva: Mr Reliable Who Has Been Integral to Man City's Recent Success

Bernardo Silva joined Mancheter City from Monaco.
Bernardo Silva joined Mancheter City from Monaco. | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

There are few right wingers in world football quite like Manchester City's Bernardo Silva.

The Portuguese isn't exactly lightning quick, nor does he really put up great numbers in terms of goals or assists - especially when you compare him to other City stars such as Raheem Sterling.

Yet, Silva has proven to be a player Pep Guardiola has turned to time and time again during his time in Manchester - a man the former Barcelona boss can rely on. The former Monaco man's creativity, link up play, versatility and ability to read the game are all key attributes of his, but mix these qualities with his work rate and it is suddenly very clear why Guardiola is so fond of him.

Pep Guardiola, Bernardo Silva
Pep Guardiola has shown a great deal of trust in Bernardo Silva | MB Media/Getty Images

In his first season after joining the Sky Blues in the summer of 2017, Bernardo only started 15 league games, but still went on to make 53 appearances in all competitions - helping 'the Centurions' storm to Premier League glory.

Guardiola has always stressed that while it is crucial what a team does when they are in possession, a top side must also work tirelessly off the ball and show the right attitude to immediately look to win it back.

This is what makes Bernardo such an ideal player in Guardiola's system. Not only has he proven during his time with the club so far that he has real quality, he has also proven to be arguably City's hardest working player.

Bernardo Silva, Kyle Walker
Bernardo Silva works tirelessly for City. | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

During the 2018/19 season, Bernardo sat top of the list for distance covered in a single Premier League game, while he also occupied second spot as well. But most crucially, these were in two hugely important games for City - against Liverpool and Tottenham.

Most notably, against Liverpool, the Sky Blues were aware that only a win would do as they looked to close the gap on the Reds at the top of the table. Jurgen Klopp's men came into the contest seven points clear, but City battled to a 2-1 win to reduce the gap to four points. Of course, Guardiola's men went on to replace Liverpool at the top of the table and secured the league title.

Running 13.7km, Bernardo covered just about every blade of grass on the pitch, working relentlessly to force the Reds into mistakes. As well as this, Bernardo made ten ball recoveries in the game, while he also provided one assist.

Of course, Bernardo has proven to be a very versatile squad member, with Guardiola placing a great deal of trust in him to deliver in a number of different positions.

But while he can play effectively in central midfield and on the left, it is on the right wing where he has proven to be most dangerous over the years.

Starting out on the right, he has the technical ability to either take his opponent on and beat him before supplying a pinpoint cross, or he can cut inside and link up with his teammates. As a natural left-footer, Bernardo is constantly looking to shift the ball onto his preferred side - but as countless defenders have found out, it is one thing to know what he is looking to do, but it is another to stop him.

Bernardo Silva, Ashley Westwood
Bernardo Silva's versatility makes him key to this City team | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The fact that Bernardo is able to pose a real threat in so many different ways is what is perhaps most impressive about him. In a team such as Man City, we would typically expect to see a right winger such as Bernardo registering a large number of goals and assists throughout a campaign, but in reality, his stats aren't exactly groundbreaking.

But his intelligence and awareness allows him to analyse his options in a split second, and rather than always playing a direct pass leading to a goal or looking to score himself, the former Benfica man can also spot the penetrating runs in behind the opponent's defence made by either the right-back or the central midfielders, allowing them to sneak in.

Under Guardiola, City have continued to find the net with great regularity by playing piercing passes in behind a defence before the ball is passed across goal for a player to finish. Bernardo has thrived in this system, with his vision and link up play making him a constant threat in the build up.

Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne
Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne have formed an excellent understanding | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Kevin De Bruyne's vision and ability to spot an eye-of-the-needle pass has been clear for all to see for some time, the midfielder's range of passing is beyond astonishing. But the Belgium international has formed an excellent understanding with Bernardo - especially when the Portugal international is operating out on the right.

De Bruyne is most menacing when he is able to dictate the game in the right-hand channel, either making runs from deep or spraying passes around the field. With Bernardo on the right, he allows De Bruyne the space to flourish, with the pair linking up to great effect.

This can be seen during City's 2-0 win over West Ham back in February. Throughout the game, the pair were creating space on the right, with Bernardo staying wide and feeding De Bruyne, who was charging through time and time again. For the second goal, Silva picked up a pocket of space in-field and looked to play a one-two with De Bruyne.

Already seeing his intention, De Bruyne played a perfect pass into his feet before then racing into the box and finishing off the outstanding move by ruthlessly firing in. Their understanding and link up is breathtaking at times, with defenders simply unable to get close.

On the international stage, Cristiano Ronaldo dominates the headlines each time Portugal take to the pitch, but Silva has been a key member. He was named Player of the Tournament after helping guide his nation to Nations League glory.

At just 25, Bernardo's best years are also arguably still ahead of him. There are undoubtedly right wingers in world football who have better goal contribution figures - but there are very few who can match his technical ability, work rate and understanding of the game.

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