Pep Guardiola on Bernardo Silva: Right Now It Is Bernardo and 10 More Players

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2019

Manchester City's Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva receives instruction from Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola before coming on during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on September 1, 2018. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said midfielder Bernardo Silva is currently the first name on his team sheet. 

Having joined City in the summer of 2017, Silva played a bit-part role in his first season at the Etihad Stadium. In his second campaign at the club he's excelled, being used in a central-midfield berth and covering for Kevin De Bruyne for long portions of the season.

Speaking about his team ahead of the clash with Everton on Wednesday, in which a win for City will take them back to the top of the Premier League at least temporarily, Guardiola made it clear how important he thinks Silva is, per Dom Farrell of Goal:

"For me, to drop Bernardo Silva right now is almost impossible. Right now it is Bernardo and 10 more players.

"I don't know what this guy has done this season. Playing in the middle and outside, every single game he played perfect. Taking decisions, how he fights, reading the movements offensively and defensively, the way he lives the game.

"Every time we miss a chance he makes that reaction [puts head dramatically in hands]. He lives that, he is involved absolutely."

Having played centrally for much of the campaign, Silva, who has eight goals and seven assists in all competitions, was stationed wide on the right flank on Sunday during the 3-1 win over Arsenal.

In the game he caused many problems for the Gunners defence with his positioning, darts infield and ability to link well with De Bruyne. The technical ability and inventiveness he has on the ball means the Portuguese is capable of making an impact wherever he features on the field.

In the 2-1 win over Liverpool in January, he got through a remarkable amount of running:

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

13.7 - Bernardo Silva covered 13.7 kilometres (8.5 miles) against Liverpool, the most by any player in a Premier League game this season. Endurance. https://t.co/QTZewXE1mn

With De Bruyne returning to fitness recently there were some wondering how Guardiola would go about getting all of his star midfielders in the team. The system he used on Sunday—essentially a 3-4-2-1 setup—may be one way of doing so.

Sam Lee of Goal praised the manager for the way in which he set the side up against Arsenal:

Sam Lee @Sammy_Goal

So Guardiola didn't over-think the line-up, then. One day he'll pick a team like this and City won't win, and there'll be a load of criticism about arrogance or over-thinking or whatever, but let's remember days like these (like Liverpool in Jan) when it was the right decision

Nevertheless, Guardiola has made it clear how valued Silva is in his eyes, and there's little doubt he will be a crucial man for years to come at the Etihad Stadium. To step into De Bruyne's shoes and ensure there's been minimal drop off for City showcases just how talented he is.

While there are stylistic differences in their play, comparisons will naturally be made between the Portugal international and David Silva, who is approaching the twilight of his career at 33. Given how key the latter has been to City's success in recent years, it is good to have a ready-made replacement on their books.