News Matches

Why Bernardo Silva is struggling to make his Man City transfer happen

08:00 BST 25/08/2021
Bernardo Silva Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola has confirmed the Portugal international wants to leave before the transfer window shuts but time is running out to complete a deal

Watching Bernardo Silva's performance against Norwich City, you would have no idea that he wants to leave Manchester City.

The energy was intense as it has always been since he moved from Monaco in 2017. So, too, was the skill and the interaction with his team-mates.

City were back to their best as they blitzed the newly-promoted Canaries, with non-stop Bernardo as the heartbeat in a dynamic midfield.

Yet the 27-year-old, who has two years remaining on his current deal, could still leave before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

AC Milan are the most recent club to have been linked with a move for Bernardo but Goal understands that he will not be moving to San Siro as he would favour a move to Spain to be closer to his native Portugal.

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have both previously been touted as possible destinations but, frustratingly for Bernardo, he has become a victim of his own success.

After helping City to three Premier League titles in his four years at the club, earning glowing praise from Pep Guardiola and signing a contract extension in 2019, he is now out of the price range for many of Europe's biggest clubs, who have been hit hard by the economic crisis caused by Covid-19.

Guardiola confirmed that Bernardo wanted to leave earlier shortly after the squad reconvened for the 2021-22 campaign, but a transfer is looking increasingly likely.

"It's not just Bernardo," the City boss explained. "There are two, three or four players that want to leave. But they are our players and under contract.

"When they want to leave, we are open to discuss absolutely everything, but it depends on them.

"Otherwise, they will continue training really well, they will stay here and I will decide if they stay or don't stay.

"The players who want to leave know the door is open because we don't want anyone here unsatisfied. But they have to [find a club]. Otherwise, they will stay here."

In Bernardo's case, it is now up to his agent Jorge Mendes to see if he can work his magic to execute an exit before the window shuts.

Being used as a makeweight in the £100 million-plus pursuit of Tottenham's Harry Kane would certainly have been particularly beneficial to City, as they struggle to break the ongoing impasse over the England forward's future.

So far, there has been no agreement and Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has become entrenched in his position that he will not sell his star striker, who still has three years left on his contract.

City also need to get rid of a high-profile player if they are to finance a deal for their priority target, but Bernardo has little interest in joining a team that finished seventh in the Premier League and are playing in the Europa Conference League.

His stance is understandable and by no means problematic at a club where he is renowned for his professionalism.

Lockdown life was tough for many of the Premier League's foreign players, who were part of an exhausting cycle of matches, COVID-19 tests, training and staying at home, but Bernardo behaved and performed impeccably.

Hugely popular with the players and Guardiola's backroom staff, his presence around the first-team would be sorely missed if he left.

On the pitch last season, he played a key role in City's run to the Champions League final, starting all but two group games, as well as two-thirds of their Premier League matches.

However, that does not tell the full picture. His flexibility and happiness to take on any role which makes him even more valuable.

At the beginning of City's 15-match winning streak which was pivotal to reclaiming the title, Bernardo started the first 13 and played in five positions from the first seven games.

Against Southampton, Chelsea and Crystal Palace he was a right winger, at home to Newcastle he was on the left, and he played as a false nine against Aston Villa. He dropped back to a No.10 for the visit of Brighton and then played as an eight in the win away to West Brom.

Without Sergio Aguero for much of last season, Guardiola was forced to shuffle his squad to cover his absence and Bernardo is the type of player who is so quick to adjust to each demand.

City should have less need for that sort of movement this season, particularly if they can finally get a deal done for Kane in the final months of the window.

The downside for Bernardo is that he could get pushed further down the pecking order with the arrival of Jack Grealish and emergence of Phil Foden.

Neither Foden or Kevin De Bruyne were available for Saturday's win over Norwich and Bernado will face an almighty battle for a starting role when they are. That is, if he doesn't get his wish and secure a summer switch to Spain.

But time is running out for a player that so many clubs, including City, would be happy to have on their books come September 1.