Silva continuing to prove himself as Man City's master of all trades


Every team has that one underrated player that never gets the plaudits some believe they deserve. For Manchester City, that player is Bernardo Silva. In a game that saw Erling Haaland break the 50-goal barrier in the Premier League and Jeremy Doku complete 12 dribbles and City and Liverpool played out a 1-1 draw at the Etihad, Silva again impressed in one of the two attacking midfielder roles. 


Yearly speculation over a potential summer exit hasn't hindered City nor Silva with the 29-year-old routinely called upon by Pep Guardiola to carry out any number of duties for the champions. What's key here is that Silva carries out these duties to an extremely high standard. 


Need a winger to get stuck in? Silva's your man. Need a central midfielder to dictate the tempo? Silva is happy to help. Need a creator in behind goal machine Haaland? You better believe that Silva can carry out this role. Indeed, he's not just a Jack of all trades; rather Silva is a master. As Pep's 'Swiss' army knife, they don't come much better than the Portugal international. 


This is reflected in Silva's fine WhoScored rating of 7.26, that ranking fifth of all City players. What's key about those above Silva for the treble winners - Doku, Rodri, Haaland and Phil Foden - is that he already have a predefined role in this City XI. By comparison, the former Monaco man has started in four different positions this season and excelled in all four. 


He has really bought into Guardiola's desire for control and despite his stature, holds onto possession well regardless of pressure from opponents. A 91.4% pass success rate ranks eighth of all midfielders in the Premier League this season as he picks out a teammate with ease, this despite routinely operating in more advanced areas. That he does so from an average of 62.6 passes per 90 is a testament to his vision as City look to dominate opponents. 


Silva continuing to prove himself as Man City's master of all trades


Crucially is that Silva isn't bogged down in dictating tempo for City. While the midfielders who boast better pass success rates than Silva are often those who win and recycle possession - the likes of Rodri, Billy Gilmour and Declan Rice all rank above Silva for this metric - the City star routinely carves out chances for his teammates. 


It means that of the City players to register in excess of 350 minutes this season, only Doku (2.6) and Julian Alvarez (2.5) are making more key passes per 90 than Silva (2.2). In the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, Silva is one of those to have stepped up for Guardiola's side in the final third having provided three assists from his 10 appearances. For context, Silva's best assist haul in a Premier League season is seven, so he should beat that return this time around. 


Off the ball, too, supporters have witnessed the same nitty-gritty defensive actions from Silva that have become commonplace at the Etihad. While the likes of Rodri and Kovacic (both 2.2) sit near the top of the tackles per 90 metric of all City, as is to be expected given their position and role within the team, Silva's chipping in with a solid average of 1.8 tackles per 90. This means that City are able to pressure opponents higher up the pitch and allows them to create chances by forcing turnovers in threatening areas. 


As such, while City do frequently look to maximise the wings to hurt teams, they do often attack through the middle. It's no surprise that with Alvarez and Silva operating in the number 10 roles, 32% of City's attacks comes through the middle of the pitch, that the highest proportion in the Premier League this season. With a player as tenacious as Silva operating in the final third, he's the perfect Guardiola player who is prepared to carry out the high-pressing demands of the Spanish boss, retain possession and create for teammates. 


"One of the best players I’ve seen in my life. He’s one of the best," Guardiola said after Silva's superb performance in City's Manchester Derby mauling of rivals United at the end of October and the former's high praise of the latter is certainly deserved. This is just par for course, though, as far as City supporters are concerned. They have become well accustomed to Silva's standout showings in a City shirt. Rather, it's more that he is coming in for well-earned acclaim in part due to De Bruyne's absence. 


While the likes of Haaland and Doku, to name two, regularly earn the kudos, Silva goes about his business in a key midfield role that enables City to dictate. No wonder City have routinely rebuffed every effort from European rivals to secure Silva's services. They won't pick up another player with his skillset anytime soon.

Silva continuing to prove himself as Man City's master of all trades