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One of the seemingly smarter transfers of the current summer transfer window was Bernardo Silva’s arrival at Manchester City yet now the club must give him the conditions within which to thrive.
Bernardo arrived at Eastlands as the Portuguese midfielder who took Pep Guardiola’s Blues apart over the course of the two Champions League knockout matches played last season.
He was elusive in midfield and created so many chances for the players in front of him it came as no surprise when City agreed a deal to sign him before the transfer window had even officially opened.
However his start to life in the Premier League has been a slow one after being left on the bench for the club’s opening two domestic matches against Brighton and Hove Albion and Everton. Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth saw Bernardo handed his first start and he was excellent.
His touch is as comfortable as anyone’s in the Premier League and the first-half against Bournemouth showed he could easily be the link between Gabriel Jesus in attack and Kevin de Bruyne in his newfound deeper role.
Guardiola needs to now give him a secure place in the first-team because not only will Manchester City benefit from that in the present moment but it also provides a clear opportunity for the 23-year-old to develop and improve.
Physicality of course will be an issue, and is perhaps exactly why the former Barcelona coach has chosen to air on the side of caution, but you can only get used to the English top flight by playing in it.
David Silva has been a quite wonderful player for the Blues with a large number of supporters considering the Spaniard to be the club’s greatest ever player, however it is clear that his namesake is actually his long-term replacement. It can’t be too long before Bernardo is handed the reins to the current team in terms of creativity.
Defensive solidity is something that has been desperately lacking at the club in recent years yet the seemingly improved fitness of Vincent Kompany this season has had a noticeable impact.
The confidence this creates will permeate through the entire team and allow Manchester City’s more creative players to play their natural game without concern about what is going on behind them.
This isn’t relevant to the bigger matches against your title rivals but it would allow Guardiola to include more attacking players in his starting line-up against teams City should really be beating.
Benefits the side
We saw an illustration of this at Bournemouth with Bernardo, David Silva and De Bruyne all starting but moving forward someone will have to drop out and it shouldn’t be the Portuguese international.
One of the benefits to having the former Monaco midfielder at the club is his ability to be creative from deeper positions.
Now the aforementioned physicality of the Premier League is certainly different to Ligue 1 but one of his best attributes is floating around the middle of the pitch, picking up space and kick-starting attacking moves from there.
Again I repeat, in the more difficult matches this is something that could be perceived as a gamble but it certainly works on other occasions. Isco is the perfect example at Real Madrid with his floating midfield position making Los Blancos such a threat when they have possession.
Sergio Aguero is no longer the guaranteed fixture in the first-team that he has been throughout the entirety of his career in English football with Jesus now clearly Guardiola’s preferred option.
The decision to use one striker opens up a position in midfield that could allow all of City’s attacking riches to be used at one time.
Deserves to start
Such a talented footballer shouldn’t be on the bench and many were expecting Bernardo to make an impact right away.
Of course these things take time but given his age and obvious qualities it would be incredibly prudent if he was to be made the focal point of City’s midfield in the very near future.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @cmwinterburn
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