The Goal.com 50: David Silva (44)

Goal.com’s countdown to the greatest player of 2008 reaches number 44 and we have our first entrant from La Liga and the second Spaniard on the list, David Silva. At just 22 years of age, he is one of the most highly valued players at Valencia and he has already established himself as a regular with the Spanish national team.
50 - Ashley Young - Aston Villa, Premier League - Score: 1109
49 - Javier Zanetti - Internazionale, Serie A - Score: 1104
48 - Daniel Guiza - Fenerbahçe, Super Lig - Score: 1089
47 - Juninho Pernambucano - Olympique Lyonnais, Ligue 1 - Score: 1083
46 - Juan Román Riquelme - Boca Juniors, Argentine Apertura - Score: 1077
45 - Luca Toni - FC Bayern, Bundesliga - Score: 1064

44 - David Silva - Valencia, La Liga - Score: 1060

More Than A Wing-Man

David Silva is another one of Valencia’s outrageously talented wingers. But he is more than just a wizard on the ball. He is incredibly versatile, capable of playing on either side of the flank, as a central playmaker in the ‘hole’ or as a second striker.

And he is not just a player who relies solely on his dribbling and a bag full of tricks. Like a deep-lying playmaker, he has outstanding vision and a great reading of the game, often supplying his forwards with pin-point, defence-splitting through balls.  

The 22-year-old has gone from strength to strength season after season since his breakthrough year in 2006 when he returned to Valencia to replace Pablo Aimar following a loan stint at Celta Vigo and Eibar. In just two short years, he has cemented his status as one of the best attacking midfielders in the game.

Golden Year For Silva

But 2008 has been a rather bizarre and trying year for Silva. Although he picked up two winners’ medals, there is just this sense that it wasn’t quite a complete and fulfilling 12 months for the youngster.

The first half of the year proved to be truly abysmal as his 2007/08 La Liga campaign with Valencia went from a nightmare to a real horror show. Internal fighting at the club, an authoritarian coach, Ronald Koeman, who could barely string two wins together and defeat after defeat at the once impregnable home fortress, the Mestalla, left Los Che teetering on the brink of relegation at one stage.

The team only avoided a total catastrophe of a season when they somehow bagged the Copa del Rey in April after sweeping past Getafe 3-1 in the final. And it would be Silva’s first piece of silverware of any kind at senior level.

Throughout this topsy-turvy turmoil, the winger managed to maintain his performance levels and he was one of the few players in the squad who consistently impressed. And he would carry that resplendent form with him to the European Championships with Spain in Austria-Switzerland – his maiden senior international tournament – where he went on to pick up his second piece of gold in as many months.   

Euro Heroes

Silva, like many of his compatriots, had a barn-storming Euro 2008 campaign, dazzling fans with his energetic wing play and his almost telepathic understanding with the rest of his team-mates. A perfect illustration of this was his constant swapping of the flanks with Andres Iniesta, a routine which also brought his effortless versatility to the fore.

Even though he only managed to find the net once – in the 3-0 triumph over Russia in the semi finals – he played and started every single game for La Furia Roja in the tournament bar the final group match against Greece.

But by the end of it all, he was slightly overshadowed by some of his countrymen such as Iniesta, Xavi, David Villa and Fernando Torres, all of whom made the 23-man Team of the Tournament, on which Silva unfortunately missed out.

Another misfortune for the man from the Canary Islands was injury. Shortly after the Euros, a chronic left ankle problem forced him to undergo surgery in September, ruling him out of action until just a few weeks ago. Many had feared that this ailment would cruelly cut short his meteoric rise to superstardom, just as it did to the player who’s position he inherited, Vicente. Although he has now completed his recovery, only time will tell if he can steer clear of any recurring problems and rediscover his best and sharpest form.

Silva may have committed his long-term future to Valencia, but the club’s financial uncertainties make him a constant target in the transfer market. Over the course of the year, he has been linked with all the usual suspects of Europe’s elite, from Manchester Uniter to Liverpool to Real Madrid and Barcelona. An eventual move to one of the continent’s superpowers remains a possibility and at just 22 years of age, he has the world at his feet.

With the World Cup in South Africa fast approaching, 2009 will be a pivotal period in David Silva’s career. It could very well be a year where he either quietly slips into oblivion like so many others before him, or explodes onto the next level and joins the Messis and Ronaldos to become a global phenomenon.

2008 Team Honours:

2007/08 Copa del Rey (Valencia)

2008 European Championships (Spain)

2008 Individual Honours:

None

KS Leong, Goal.com