Manchester City will find it hard to replace Bernardo Silva if he leaves this summer, and may already have the best substitute
The midfield upheaval at Manchester City could not possibly be as extreme as it appeared to be at the start of the summer.
Ilkay Gundogan may have left, but Kalvin Phillips has stated his determination to stay and fight, while Bernardo Silva has not yet made a move toward the exit door. The Portuguese international is hoping to depart for the third summer in a row and recently celebrated his wedding. However, he still hasn’t found a club that will work for everyone.
While they wait, City is keeping their options open in the transfer market because it doesn’t necessarily follow that Bernardo won’t depart. There is no shortage of midfielders that Pep Guardiola values, and he still has a number of targets after putting together a £90 million deal for Declan Rice before giving it to Arsenal. Celta midfielder Gabri Veiga is one of the more intriguing names on the list.
However, as the City manager has said, no one can do Bernardo’s duties nearly as well as the player himself, who excels at playing a variety of positions and is eager to assist the squad in any way necessary. Those traits will be difficult to replace.
In reality, six years ago, Phil Foden, probably the best like-for-like trade, joined Guardiola’s side. The England star has spent the majority of his time with the first team out wide despite having developed as a top academy talent playing in a center midfield position. This is partly because he is still figuring out what the coach expects from a central role, but it is also because he carries an offensive threat that few can match.
The necessity to play Foden up front may have diminished with the acquisition of Erling Haaland, but the attacker is still effective when he plays on either wing. Haaland tore apart United in the 6-3 derby victory and rendered Dan Burn powerless to motivate a victory over Newcastle. In all competitions last season, only Haaland and Julian Alvarez scored more goals than he did (15).
It was noteworthy that Guardiola chose Foden to replace the injured Kevin De Bruyne with an hour left in the Champions League final. The goal for Foden is to eventually shift him into that center position. Even if the 23-year-old also shone against Brighton from a wider position, the season’s conclusion demonstrated that he has never been more prepared to make the switch.
The best position for Foden this season, though, would be in the floating Bernardo role of switching between midfield and the wings, especially if his friend is gone. Mateo Kovacic has arrived to take some playing time in the middle, and Phillips is desperate to obtain more game time. If City is to maintain their high standards, Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish will need some significant competition for a starting spot given that the Blues don’t appear to be in the market for a new winger.
The Bramhall Bernardo may yet replace the Stockport Iniesta.