How Man City signing Bernardo Silva made his name at Monaco

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Bernardo Silva might have been something of a slow burner when he first arrived at Monaco, but there will be few transfer deals concluded this summer that will match the explosiveness of his switch to Manchester City.

News started to break that the Portugal international was in England for a medical in the morning, and barely six hours later he had signed a contract that had committed him to Pep Guardiola’s side and sealed a £43 million transfer - a fee that could prove a steal for City.

Bernardo Silva signs for Man City

His rise over the course of the last 12 months has been stellar, and it is no coincidence that it has been matched by the Monaco side that he has orchestrated so beautifully since the beginning of the season.

It should have been Silva, as opposed to Edinson Cavani, who picked up the title of Ligue 1 Player of the Year, but given that Monaco had so many stars, their vote was likely split. Of all the dazzling performers on France’s south coast this season, though, it was the Portuguese who was the most consistent for the duration of the campaign.

Team-mate Fabinho confessed in February: “He’s maybe the most important member of the team.”

Compared to predators like Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe, his contribution could be easily overlooked; after all, he is not a player with staggering numbers. Equally, he does not provide the swagger, explosiveness or the power of the likes of Benjamin Mendy or Tiemoue Bakayoko.

Above all, the 22-year-old is an orchestrator, widely compared to David Silva due to his stature, his cunning and his ardent use of his left foot.

“When I arrived here in 2014, I didn’t know it was going to go like this,” he admitted in the aftermath of Monaco’s thumping 4-0 win over Lille that all but secured the club’s first Ligue 1 title in nearly two decades.

Indeed, he arrived as an unknown in France, following head coach Leonardo Jardim from Portugal. Despite playing only one match with Benfica’s senior squad, the boss had been sufficiently impressed with the prospect, to sign him up on a loan deal.

How will City get the best out of Silva?

Bernardo Silva Monaco

Although he impressed with his technique when he arrived in France, that the purchase clause of nearly €16 million was taken out by the Monegasques as early as January was a surprising move. At that juncture, he had made just 15 Ligue 1 appearances, scoring two goals and fashioning only one more.

It was only at the end of that campaign that his potential became evident as he scored six times in the last eight games to finish the league campaign with nine goals – still the highest he has attained in his short career.

The season that followed was “less good for everyone” the player has admitted, and he was targeted for being ineffective in the final third.

It was a campaign prematurely ended by injury, and though that may well have cost him a place in Portugal’s victorious Euro 2016 squad and perhaps even a speedier move, in the long term it may have ignited his career. Monaco were even prepared to let him go, but the bids they hoped for never materialised.

When he returned for Jardim’s men – a side suddenly fuelled with remarkable attacking intent – he was as strong as ever. He may only have scored eight times and laid on nine more, but he was the hub of so much that was successful at Stade Louis II, where he regaled the fans with his incredible ability to keep the ball under all kinds of improbable circumstances. History may look back on him as being the scorer of the season's pivotal goal: a last-gasp strike from range against Paris Saint-Germain that salvaged a 1-1 draw in January.

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HD Bernardo Silva Monaco

He admits that he owes much to Jardim, but was also keen to stress the sense of collective has been vital at Monaco this season – something that he embodies in his game.

“Personally, Jardim has given me a lot,” he confirmed earlier this month. “He works well with young players and gives them many opportunities.

“In my head, I feel different. I’ve improved since I joined.”

Silva, however, has long been singled out for stardom. At Benfica, the club he holds so dear to his heart that he has their motto ‘E Pluribus Unum’ tattooed on his left arm, he was singled out as “clearly the most talented player of his generation” by coach Helena Costa.

Now at one of the biggest clubs in the world, he will finally have the audience his artistry deserves.

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