From Creative Winger To All-Around Midfielder: Bernardo Silva
Although Manchester City conceded three beautiful goals at Etihad, a two goal-different win were making them an advantageous side for France. It was Pep Guardiola's first Champions League experience with City. The factor that was not taken into account when coming to the match was an early Monaco goal. Minute 8. Benjamin Mendy's cross is rejected by John Stones, the ball falls in front of Bernardo Silva. Bernardo sent the ball to the penalty area without waiting, and Kylian Mbappe, who has become a phenomenon these days, was scoring the goal.
The side that left from the match happily became Bernardo's side and exactly 2 months and 11 days later Bernardo Silva was signing a contract with Manchester City. When the star creative winger, who is no stranger to this team and even one of the stars who eliminated this team from the Champions League, came to the team, he thought that the creative winger position would be his role but with so much competition he had to fight for the shirt.
Bernardo Silva has always been the main hero of plot twists. He was born in the good half of a country like Portugal whose economic position is likely to live in two extremes. Bernardo, who entered the Benfica youth system of which he was a lifelong supporter at the age of 8, was nicknamed Messizinho and Little Messi are the ones of the nicknames that will follow him for years in this amazing academy. Since he stepped up on the pitch, as a little child he has always been in front of the spotlights in Benfica which is like a genuinely young talent academy club. Little Bernardo, who started to prove his maturity by joining the Benfica B team in 2013, was winking at the A-team.
One of the plot twists started right here. Jorge Jesus' Benfica won the Portuguese Bwin League with just two losses, played in the final in the UEL, and took the Taça de Portugal to their trophy cabinet. Although the team had a great season, there was a complaint coming from fans and the club was the insignificant minutes given to homegrown players. Bernardo Silva was one of those who had inevitable fate. The young star, who got only 31 minutes in 3 games, was deciding to leave the team.
Jesus even tried to fashion a left-back out of him. The club did not want to give up immediately. They were accepting the loan offer from Monaco. Although Bernardo was upset about leaving Benfica the club that he was a lifelong fan of, France and his career was waiting for him. On the other hand, Jorge Jesus won the Portugal Bwin League 14-15 also for Benfica, but he signed with Sporting CP that same summer, breaking the hearts of many Benfica fans.
Leonardo Jardim and the Monaco union had begun rebuilding. The team lost two of its most valuable players in the summer of 2014, James Rodriguez and Falcao. Now it was time to renew. Even maybe Monaco couldn't find a better one for this than Jardim.
Like Bernardo Silva has claimed that he owes a lot to Leonardo Jardim, who is more like a father to him than just a former coach. In his words: "Personally, Jardim has given me a lot,” Bernardo Silva confirms. "He works well with young players. He saw I was young and gave me the opportunity. In my head, I felt different. I've improved within just 3 months of joining the French club.” Monaco added 9 new players in the summer of 2014 to its squad. Just one is above the age of 25 in the new transfers was Maarten Stekelenburg who is signed to fill the hole about bench goalkeeper.
The team was getting younger and was starting to value young people. Bakayoko and Bernardo were the duo that would mark this team. This rebuilding started to show results from its first season, Bernardo was showing a performance that wants to use the option to buy his performance by convincing Jardim and Monaco in just 6 months. A winger who had ten goals and four assists from his first season could not go unnoticed. Jardim's youth but the dynamic team was hopeful and made Monaco believe that they were going in the right direction. Continuation of the transfers came in 15-16.
As the young stars began to get used to the team, Monaco forced the second-place spot in the league. Bernardo was about to become the main star of this team. By solving his problems on the right-wing this season in the number ten zone, actually in this way he was showing the first pieces of the tactical flexibility Pep works especially in today. After that season with seven goals and three assists, Kylian Mbappe from the youth team and Radamel Falcao, who returned from two unsuccessful loan spells in England, came and joined Monaco. Having come on the shoulders of Martial the previous season, Monaco now has two incredible forwards.
Image from Getty Images.
Now Jardim's team needed to make a splash. Rebuilding was enough for this team to be the top candidate at the end of 2 years. Monaco wins Ligue 1 in 2017, and in the Champions League reach the semi-finals, beating Manchester City in the last 16. Bernardo was the main star of this team. Although Jardim used to 4231 from time to time, Monaco was actually a team that played 442.
In setups like the 442, it is very difficult for winger players to score. In this winger game setup, wingers are much more away from the goal than 4231 or 433, winger players are generally expected assisting to the strikers. Bernardo, on the other hand, was a very special player, awakening Falcao from two unsuccessful England periods who produced thirty goals and seven assists, as well as marking the season with 11 goals and 12 assists. As soon as the season was over, Bernardo was caught in the net of a new rebuilding team.
In his first season with Pep Guardiola, Manchester City would go through an intense transfer period due to the difficulties they experienced against teams that were waiting deep in both defence and offense. Before June came, Manchester City transferred Bernardo Silva for 50 Million Euros. The Portuguese star was feeling at the peak of her career. He was wrong.
Manchester City gave a great start to the season and started the league with an unbeaten streak of 22 matches. While City was doing so well, the wingers definitely had to have a share in this rise. Sane and Sterling had an incredible start to the season, while Bernardo played just 4 of those 22 games in 70+ minutes.
In addition to the rising performances of the names in front of them, the Portuguese star, who tried to overcome the language barrier, became the bench move of the team and his coach this season. The Portuguese, who came from the bench and made nine goals and 11 assists, was not worried about his role as Kompany's word “A half clown, a half captain” for himself, but it was obvious that such a talent still wanted to take minutes on the pitch. By this time he was finding time in the rotation of the right-wing, but Pep was insistent on unravelling teams that were deeply defensive.