'Legend' Silva proving he won't be easy to replace at Man City
Phil Foden put it perfectly when he took to Twitter following Manchester City's 5-0 rout of Newcastle.
Foden has long been earmarkedas the man to fillthe boots of David Silva at City having spent much of the past decade watching him from the stands as a supporter.
Now he gets to play alongside the Spanish magician, and on Wednesday the 34-year-old illustratedthe standards that academy graduate Foden will berequired to reach.
Ten yearson since he joined Cityfrom Valencia, Silva is still the master at unpicking defences with a mesmeric mix of touch, vision and intelligence.
It was he who started the thrashing of Steve Bruce's side at the Etihad Stadiumby teeing up Gabriel Jesus for a neat 10th-minute opener, and it was Silva again who rounded the win off by intercepting a pass as he pressed high in stoppage time beforerolling the ballinto Raheem Sterling to score the fifth.
Before that Silvahad scored a brilliant fourth himself - his 76th for the club - with an unstoppable 25-yard free-kick that Magpies goalkeeper Martin Dubravka did not even bother diving for.
The statistics over his City career are startling.
Silva's two assists on Wednesday meanhe has now reached 10 or more in all competitions in all 10 of his seasons at the Etihad. He has also been directly involved in 151Premier League goals - more than any other midfielder since 2010.
“It is not the game today – which was incredible – but what he has done over 10 years," Pep Guardiola said post-match.“When the people come back to the Etihad Stadium we will do a farewell game for one of the legends of this club.
“He is maybe the best in the small spaces. Moving between the lines I have never seen anyone like him.
“He has come back from lockdown in incredible form and rhythm. If he decides to play on he can play anywhere -there is no doubt about this.”
Unfortunately for Guardiola and City fans, Silva has already made his mind up that he will be leaving at the end of the season.
And though he will not get the chance to bid a proper farewell until supporters are allowed back into stadiums,there could yet be a fairytale ending for the player affectionately known as Merlin.
Silva has won a World Cup and two European Championships with Spain as well asfour Premier Leagues, three FA Cups and five League Cups with City. The one missing trophyhe craves more than any other is the Champions League, and the upcoming end-of-season mini-tournament in Lisbon will provide him with afinal opportunity.
Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta have all left City as legends but without a European medal to their name. Guardiola is hopeful thatthe same will not happen to either Silva or Sergio Aguero.
"We have four incredible weeks ahead of us that will never come back," the City boss said. "This chance we have in the FA Cup to get to the final and then play Real Madrid in the second leg and keep going in this competition is in our hands for four weeks. It depends on us."
What happens after that month is a longer-term problem for City.
Silva finished the Newcastle match on the fieldalongside both Foden and Premier League debutant Tommy Doyle - another academy graduate whohas been watching Silva since he was at primary school and is regarded as a potential replacement in midfield.
Foden, 20, has long been identified as Silva's successor, and has shown his quality since the Premier League returned with four goals and two assists of his own.
There are currently no plans for City to go into the transfer market for a new midfielder this summer,with priorities elsewhere in the squad, but that touch of experience will be missed.
Foden's dynamism and directness are hugely exciting, but City will still find it difficult to replace Silva's control or competitive edge, particularly on the big occasion.
Quiet off the pitch, he never stops battling on it. It iswhy he paid Jonjo Shelvey back with a painful challenge in the second half against Newcastle after anearlierfoul from the midfielder. It iswhy he was still remonstrating with the referee after the final whistle as Foden and Doyle waited to hug their hero as he left the pitch.
"The young players learn from David through example, not about the words or talking much," Guardiola added. "When someone doesn't talk much but through example in training sessions - especially the way he is as a competitor - it is good."
Next month will be the last to learn the magician's tricks before he disappears.
Source : goal.com
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