When Fernandinho’s abilities finally wane, Manchester City will face an impossible task trying to replace the Brazilian who anchors their midfield.
Finding an adequate understudy-come-successor has been one of their key objectives during the last two transfer windows, to no avail, and Sunday’s Manchester Derby once again highlighted how crucial a presence the midfield veteran is. As Manchester United continuously hoped for some kind of good fortune on the break, it was Fernandinho who denied them it by relentlessly cleaning up and putting his side back on the front foot.
Further forward in City’s engine room though, despite David Silva and Kevin De Bryune being widely revered as amongst the best attacking midfielders in the world, Pep Guardiola doesn’t have the same problem of finding long-term successors. Flickering on the horizon is the highly-anticipated career of Phil Foden, a young talent who appears destined to run City’s midfield for the best part of generation, and already in the team every week is 24-year-old Bernardo Silva.
After having to accept whatever game-time he could get out wide during his debut season at the Etihad Stadium, De Bruyne’s injury has allowed Silva to move into midfield and flourish in a position that has been seen has his best-suited, ultimate role for some time now.
It’s not so much that he’s done a good job in the Belgium international’s absence either, more that he’s given Guardiola a genuine selection dilemma for when everybody is fit. To say that City have absolutely no need to rush De Bruyne back into the starting XI is not only testament to how the Eastlands outfit seem so far ahead of the rest of the Premier League right now, but also to how impeccably the younger Silva has performed.
Sunday’s Manchester Derby was one such occasion, all the more impressive considering the importance of the tie and the calibre of the opposition. In fact, Silva played a crucial role in breaking the deadlock, keeping alive a slightly overcooked Raheem Sterling cross to drill the ball across goal for his namesake David, who then stepped inside one defender before lashing home.
In the closing stages too, Silva played an equally pivotal hand in putting the game to bed – this time, it was his cross that created the danger, capping off a 44-pass move by leaving a suspiciously free Ilkay Gundogan to poke past David De Gea from point-blank range.
Those two assists were amongst a staggering six key passes Silva laid on against the Red Devils, the most of any player on the pitch, but what’s all the more impressive is that the 33-cap international ranked top of Guardiola’s side for tackles too. It’s often so easily forgotten yet so crucial to City’s philosophy that their attacking players win the ball back quickly, and Silva’s creativity in possession was matched by his hunger out of it.
And thus, there’s now an incredibly positive future to consider here, one where Bernardo not only adequately succeeds David, once the World Cup winner’s career reaches a point to just beyond where Fernandinho’s at now, but perhaps even improves upon what he gives to this Manchester City team.
That’s a massive prediction to make considering the elder Silva has earned legendary status not only at the club but also within the confines of Premier League history,however the former Monaco man is already showing signs he can reach that level too. Consistency and longevity are now the key criteria.
Will Bernardo end up being a better player than David? Let us know by voting below…