In eight years at Manchester City, David Silva has established himself as one of the stars of the Premier League. Under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, his position to operate has evolved to have an even greater influence at the heart of the Citizens game.
“Silva is one of the best midfielders in Europe and I hope he will be a very important player for City. I’m glad he comes because I think he can have a big impact on the team.” That’s how Roberto Mancini, former Manchester City coach, reacted to David Silva’s arrival in June 2010. 359 games, 66 goals, and 117 assists later, the Spaniard became a “legend” of the Citizens.
David Silva is considered one of the most elegant players of English football, all times combined. For many fans, he’s the best player in City history. Triple winner of the Premier League – in 2012, 2014 and 2018, David Silva is only behind Vincent Kompany, the oldest player of the current squad. He has experienced the changes of coaches, the massive movements of players in each offseason. But he did not move.
He has even had a second life since the arrival of Pep Guardiola in Manchester in the summer of 2016. With his compatriot, he discovered a new role, more withdrawn. “Sometimes I play lower because I have to help in the construction, but Guardiola also gives me the freedom to attack and be close to the goal,” he analyzed a few months after the arrival of the Catalan in the columns of a British newspaper. He wants me to create opportunities, it’s something I really like. He gives me a lot of freedom and I am very happy in this role. In terms of how I like to play, it really helps me to have more players around me to combine,” he said last year.
Under Guardiola, David Silva has evolved significantly over the past two years. The repositioning in the wing alongside De Bruyne was the key. For Guardiola, there is no one who is better and as calm as he is with the ball, so to maximize his talent he has given it a central influence. Silva is an oasis of permanent calmness in the hustle and bustle of the Premier League. He never panics, he always has the time, the precision in his passes is amazing, and he always has this thing to create spaces with a small movement of the body or the shoulder, a little like Zinedine Zidane did it. The former Valencia player knows how to get out of perilous situations and be effective in small spaces. Some Premier League players have already told that the most demoralizing experience for them was trying to take the ball from Silva.
With age, Silva has improved his game, understood how to manage his efforts, use his experience to preserve himself and be decisive when he must be. “I think I learned to be more patient on the field, I tended to move a lot and want the ball everywhere, all the time. Guardiola taught me to stay in an area, to be more determined, and to wait for the ball to arrive so that we would be in a higher position,” Silva told in a BBC interview.
David Silva’s experience allows him to develop other qualities, more human, beyond the pure sporting aspect. His leadership is not often mentioned, but his mentor like attitude for players like Phil Foden, the future of City, is paramount. Still, David Silva sometimes goes out of the radar, in the shadows of Kevin De Bruyne or Sergio Aguero. “I play the same way. Guardiola gave me advice because he has a certain way of playing. But I have my style and I put it in the service of the team,” he said. Silva is not the kind of player who likes to put himself forward, which sometimes prevents him from being appreciated at his true value.