Portuguese international Bernardo Silva has stolen the hearts of Man City fans, having won the club’s Player of the Year award three times, plus, in 2020, the PFA Player of the Year Award. The midfielder and winger has become one of Pep’s main men and there have been reports City has begun talks to extend his contract.
However, his teammate Riyad Mahrez has also begun to sparkle, making him a challenge for the club’s Player of the Year this season. Could the Portuguese international, Silva, be about to surrender the title to the Algerian national, Mahrez? Below is a look at the attributes that have made Silva so special to the team and the ones that could see Mahrez replace him as the Player of the Year this season.
Why’s Silva so awesome?
Silva oozes talent. Surprisingly, however, his skills of football IQ, concentration and decision-making, which you might expect of such a high-calibre player, aren’t all the ones that have made him such a gem.
Here’s why, in addition to these skills, Silva is that extra bit special to the team.
Silva is a real force in midfield because he can play in any position. He’s happy out on the right wing, maintaining width for the team or cutting inside from it. Pep can move him to a central midfield position or to a more attacking midfield one, either of these allowing Silva to display his natural skills on the ball, not to mention his passing ability. Speaking of central midfield brings us on to the next point…
Silva has established himself as a central midfielder and it’s in this position that he can drive the team forward and orchestrate attacks. He’ll press confidently with the ball, maintaining close control, and is happy to hold it up until he can release it to one of the fullbacks or to one of the wingers. They then go ahead and deliver the final killer ball.
The quality that has got all the pundits talking is just how hard this player works. He averages around 12 km per game and although he doesn’t launch himself into tackles, he's more than capable of making decisive ones. Only midfielder Rodri has won back possession more times for the team this season.
Silva sharply defends by closing down simple passes whenever possible, which shapes the flow of the game and stunts the opponent’s attacks. Not only is he winning the ball back for the team, however, but his off-the-ball running helps teammates to regain the ball and go on the move with it. By running at players, he’s hurrying them into making passes that put their teammates in trouble.
Timing and runs
Silva has tremendous one-time finishing ability. This is partly because he times his runs into the box so well. Firing the ball into the net from long range isn’t really his style. He prefers to make a late run into the box, catching defenders off guard, and put the ball in the back of the net first time.
Why could Mahrez become the team’s Player of the Year?
Mahrez has made a big contribution, having scored in seven consecutive games for the team. But what else has been catching the attention of this player as a potential player of the year for City?
Ball control and positioning
Mahrez’s ball control is especially impressive. He has superb balance. In one-on-ones, the winner is almost a foregone conclusion and he teases players into making challenges (and giving away a free kick).
His first touch is excellent, too, taking the pace right out of the ball when it comes whizzing towards him. When players pass him the ball, they can trust him to keep it, even in tight spots. If he decides to run inside, he can pick up the ball comfortably and carry the team forward.
In terms of positioning, he likes to drop deep, which allows him to support the centrebacks. Not only that, but it also draws opposition defenders out of position. If he’s out on the wing, he’ll stay out there on the flank even when the ball is on the other side of the pitch, so that he has space and time to receive passes.
An improved right foot
Mahrez has a handy left foot and defenders will try to force him onto his right one, knowing he’s less comfortable on it. Nice try, but unfortunately for them, this tactic is growing less effective. Since Mahrez has arrived at City, his right foot has come on leaps and bounds, to the point he’s even scored goals with it.
The days of always trying to find a route onto his left foot are fading into more remote parts of his footballing memory. Now opponents face a player happier than before to shoot with his right foot. To add to their woes, he’s also willing to go round them on the outside and create opportunities from there.
Betting on Premier League action
Who would you consider to be the right candidate for Player of the Year, whether it’s Man City’s or the PFA’s? You might fancy wagering on this.
You don’t have to bet on these events alone or even at all, however.Betting on the Premier League is a popular activity. There are all sorts of markets on which you can lay your money down. You might wish to bet on the outright winner of a Man City game, which, of course, you’d hope will be City. You could bet on either Silva or Mahrez to score the next goal. You could even choose to bet on the number of corners, if you wish, or whether the game will end in a home win, away win or a draw (ideally, the first two outcomes being in City’s favour).
Returning to the Mahrez versus Silva debate, one thing is clear: City have two outstanding players, capable of transforming things for the club and of generating waves in the league due to their sublime play. They’re a joy to watch whether you’re a fan or an impartial observer. Who will be the Player of the Year? It’s a space to watch. And a most thrilling one at that!