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A Cry For More Bernardo Silva

Back in August of 2017, The18 staff writer Connor Fleming predicted that Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva would be the signing of the season. What a prat that guy is, but hey, that guy is me.

Bernardo has proven the ultimate champagne footballer this season in that his appearances are typically limited to around five minutes with City holding (what’s proven to be) an insurmountable advantage. If Bernardo comes on, it’s time to pop the bubbly for the Citizens. The 23-year-old Portuguese midfielder has hardly set the Premier League alight in this role.

But it’s not his fault. If you haven’t heard, Kevin De Bruyne is putting himself in position for the 2018 Ballon d’Or, the footballing brain in a jar that is David Silva has morphed into an overlord of line-splitting hijinks, you would have an easier time containing disease in a snot-nosed elementary school in December than you would Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling is now better than Messi.

And so all 140 pounds of Bernardo hop off the bench in the match’s dying embers, a will-o’-the-wisp with the sleeves of his undershirt pulled down over his knuckles as swaths of Etihad patrons head for the exit and an escape from the blustery Manchester wintertide. 

He canters onto the pitch a living epilogue, hoping to convey the message of Shakespeare that “good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues,” but until Wednesday’s rare league start against Swansea, a return of one goal (scored in the 7-2 slaughter of Stoke City on October 14) and zero assists in 14 appearances made Bernardo the forgotten man in City’s historically early coronation as 2017-18 Premier League champions.  

Then Wednesday happened, and Bernardo’s status as the heir to David Silva, eight years his senior, was again made clear. He’s not 18, so his lack of match action would, on the one hand, lead you to believe that he’s in the wrong place. Then you remember that he’s everything Pep Guardiola wants in a footballer — he’s a sacred clown, a kind of backwards-forwards, upside-down entity created to unbalance and unlock with all the beautiful unconventionality of a Picasso masterpiece. 

After the intensity of the Manchester derby, there was always the worry of a letdown for City with the match against Swansea coming only three days later, but Bernardo tucked into the right-hand side of City’s front three — played just in front of the irresistible De Bruyne — and played his best match for the club since arriving from Monaco. 

It was reminiscent of why Pep purchased him in the first place after he ran circles around the club in last season’s Champions League.  

So Bernardo found his feet in Manchester, if only momentarily. He’ll almost certainly return to the bench for the club’s clash with Tottenham on Saturday, but City fans will be hoping to see him this weekend, if only for a couple minutes.   

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