Bernardo Silva vs Newcastle
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Bernardo Silva: The Most Underappreciated World-Class Player in Football

Pep Guardiola has presided over one of the most dominant dynasties that we have ever seen in the Premier League. His side has the potential for a record-breaking fourth consecutive league title this season. Just one year after a treble. Also, don’t forget they are still on for another historical season of three trophies.

His Manchester City team has an abundance of technical brilliance and physical prowess, with the ability to simultaneously pass their opponents to death or dominate them. Perhaps their wealth of talent explains why their squad contains the most undervalued player that we have ever seen in the Premier League.

Every great team has its role players. Players that do the dirty work and provide value in ways that aren’t always in plain sight. To put it simply, they keep the cogs working. Players in the mould of James Milner, Darren Fletcher, or John Obi-Mikel might spring to mind. But Manchester City’s role players don’t quite fit into that category. The entire squad is brimming with technical excellence in a way that we haven’t seen from another squad in England’s top flight. That’s why someone like Bernardo Silva may be difficult to properly appreciate. A gem within a sea of diamonds doesn’t always stand out.

Bernardo Silva: The Definition of Underrated

It is about time the football world appreciated Bernardo Silva and his importance to this Manchester City team and its record-breaking dominance. There is no player quite like him who makes the Citizens tick the way he does and he showcases exactly what is so good about Guardiola’s teams.

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Bernardo is a culture-setter. Not one who you expect to see bellowing at his teammates, but by setting the trend for exactly how his manager wants to play. His touch, his awareness, and his control are central tenets of implementing the Guardiola philosophy. Let’s not forget he works like a trojan for his team off the ball, too.

We saw his influence on his team clear as day in the most recent Manchester derby; it was through him that Guardiola sent the message for his players to play with calmness and trust in their system. He didn’t just pass on the message; he delivered it through his performance, sticking true to his manager’s principles through patience and precision despite an increasingly nervous crowd at the Etihad in front of a stubborn United defence.

Existing Outside of Statistics

Guardiola knows this better than anyone, and the underappreciation of Bernardo’s brilliance is not an accusation you can level at the Manchester City manager. Only recently, after the Portuguese midfielder’s performance in City’s 3-0 win against Manchester United in 2023, Guardiola explicitly outlined Bernardo’s importance to his team.

Speaking on Bernardo, his manager said, “I could stay here and talk for 10 minutes about what Bernardo Silva means for me and our team. He is a player that is beyond good in all departments—solidarity, intelligence—and he understands everything. We are in love with him.

“The problem is he has no big cars; he dresses maybe not for high style. He is humble and everybody loves him in the locker room.”Pep Guardiola

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Guardiola, in that particular interview, made reference to the fact that Bernardo’s brilliance isn’t always appreciated as it should be. The fact that he felt the need to even point this out tells a story. He points to Bernardo’s demeanour and his humility as reasons why his importance is sometimes overlooked compared to some of his peers.

It isn’t particularly surprising that this happens. Anyone sharing a pitch with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, and Erling Haaland, or going further back, Premier League greats like Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany, are bound to have difficulties getting their time in the limelight. But Bernardo is a great man in his own right. He has been a mainstay for City ever since he joined from Monaco in 2017. He has seen many brilliant players come and go during that time, but nearly seven years later, Bernardo’s importance to his team and his manager is as high as it has ever been.

The Pep Era Encapsulated Into One Player

In many ways, Bernardo is the one player that personifies the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City. He is a player blessed with an abundance of technical excellence, never willing to sacrifice his manager’s possession-based philosophy, regardless of the situation. Many managers have spoken about players who are their ‘managers on the pitch’. Most examples of this come from players who are vocal, ensuring their teammates stay focused and disciplined when the going gets tough. Bernardo performs this role in a different way: by never wavering from his coach’s principles, by keeping cool, and by finding the right pass even when the ball is hot.

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He is a player who exudes supreme confidence in his control of the ball and his ability to play the right way, while also displaying his willingness to do the dirty work in service of his teammates and in pursuit of winning. This makes him a rare breed of player whose impact on his team’s success cannot be overstated.

The excellence of some players isn’t quite appreciated until after they are gone, and Bernardo may well be a player who falls into that category. But not if his manager has anything to say about it. It’s hard to imagine a player more perfectly suited to Guardiola’s team, and if you asked the City boss if he could pick one man from his tenure to build a new team with, my guess is that Bernardo Silva may well be at the top of his list.

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