It didn’t take Tottenham long to realise they had made a grave error. Just 15 minutes into their Champions League meeting with Monaco at Wembley, Bernardo Silva was allowed to advance and was shown inside onto his stronger left foot by Jan Vertonghen.
The diminutive midfielder took his chance by sending a searing shot into the net beyond Hugo Lloris, guiding his side to a victory that set the tone for their push to the semi-finals.
While the goal raised questions over the hosts’ pre-match homework, it also spoke volumes about how much the right-sided midfielder has improved over the course of the past season.
He has graduated from promising youngster into arguably the finest performer in Ligue 1 over the course of the 2016-17 campaign.
Silva was overlooked for the official Player of the Year prize due to the sheer volume of goals scored by PSG striker Edinson Cavani, but to many he was a more deserving winner.
The 22-year-old did not even make it into the Portugal squad that won Euro 2016, but that may have been to his long-term benefit.
He came into this season stronger than ever and has been a leader throughout the campaign as Monaco have seized the advantage at the summit of Ligue 1.
Since arriving at Monaco in the summer of 2014, initially on a one-year loan deal that was later made permanent for €15 million, Silva was appreciated as an artist more than anything.
His talent for dribbling with his left foot was well known, yet so too was his inefficiency in the final third.
That has now changed – and dramatically so.
With eight goals and 11 assists to his name, he is recognised as a major threat and teams will no longer make the mistake that Spurs did last September when they underestimated his shooting ability.
“He could be the most important player in our team,” team-mate Fabinho admitted in January.
“He’s got the touch of Lionel Messi. They are both left-sided, short and make quick and incisive dribbles... they have similar characteristics.”
In truth, he’s still some way from the level of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. Instead, a better comparison would be to Manchester City’s David Silva.
Indeed, he displayed his wizardry on the ball during the Champions League last-16 first-leg clash with Pep Guardiola’s men. At one moment in the second half he ridiculed what seemed like half of the home side by keeping possession away from them using only his left boot. Ultimately, it achieved little but to prove his genius.
“He’s one of the players who we want to see with the ball most often in a game,” former Monaco player Omar Da Fonseca said in February.
Silva has been central to the efforts of a team that is likely to end up as the third-most prolific in top-flight French footballing history, having hit 102 goals in only 36 matches to date.
But his success in leading Monaco to the brink of the title may cost them his services in the summer.
“There are many big European teams who are following him,” vice-president Vadim Vasilyev told The Times. “There are some very serious tracks being made. But for the moment, I don’t want to get into details. The majority of our players are of interest to the big European teams.”
A price tag of €80m emphasises just how prized an asset the Portuguese is, and after three seasons in France he may well feel it is time to move on.
Spain or Germany would appear his more natural destinations due to the more technical football played in those nations in comparison to the more physical Premier League, yet there is no doubt that another Silva could fit nicely into a Guardiola side.
Monaco fans, though, will hope his tap-in following Kylian Mbappe’s brilliant work during Sunday’s 4-0 win over Lille is not his final goal for the club.
His young team-mate may be the man in the spotlight currently, but it has been Silva who has been the driving force behind this devilishly attractive Monaco team.