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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

David and Bernardo Silva: Master and apprentice but only room for one at Man City

The Spaniard was voted Manchester City's greatest ever signing, but he may soon have to make way for his Portuguese namesake

David Silva, right, has been key to Manchester City's recent success but the arrival of Bernardo Silva suggests Pep Guardiola is looking to the future. Ian Walton / Getty Images
David Silva, right, has been key to Manchester City's recent success but the arrival of Bernardo Silva suggests Pep Guardiola is looking to the future. Ian Walton / Getty Images

When Manchester City announced the signing of Bernardo Silva - before the summer transfer window had even officially opened - from Monaco for £43 million (Dh205m) Pep Guardiola's attacking options went from merely sublime to spectacular.

An attacking line that already boasts Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and David Silva had added another gem. Monaco, the principality side who ended Paris Saint-Germain's four-year grip on the Ligue 1 title, were never going to be able keep him out of the clutches of one of the European aristocrats for long.

But in a galaxy of stars where will the newest illumination of light have room to shine?

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That David, 31, is nine years Bernardo's senior is telling but not fatal to the Spaniard's future at City. Indeed they very much have the look of master and apprentice. The Portuguese Silva bears many similarities to his experienced Spanish namesake. Both are creators, the ones who work in the shadows, who occupy the gap between the midfield and strikers, roaming the width of the pitch in the attacking third looking to prise openings for runners from deep, overlapping full-backs and strikers looking to latch on to clever or disguised passes.

Both were pivotal to their respective teams' retention and distribution of the ball last season, as well as their goals. Of City's 19,424 successful passes David completed 1,809 of them, just over nine per cent. Bernardo's was six per cent of 13,658. And while Bernardo scored twice as many goals (8-4) as his new City teammate, David provided 75 key passes (including assists) to Bernardo's 51. However, considering Monaco were the top scorers in Europe last season with 107, that means the younger Silva had a hand in almost half the goals.

City fans would be loathed to see David phased out at the Etihad Stadium. Many of them voted him the club's greatest ever player. But following last season's barren trophy haul the expectation on Guardiola to deliver silverware this season is heightened. City will play on four fronts - Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Champions League - and Guardiola will need a squad capable of challenging on all of them.

He has already shown he has little room for sentiment, dispensing with many of the old guard that carried the club to their last league title in 2014 - Pablo Zabaleta, Bacari Sagna, Gael Clichy and Joe Hart - and replacing them with much younger incarnations. With all eyes on City, the Catalan has shown he is not afraid to stray from the idiom of out with the old, in with the new.

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