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Will Bernardo Silva be Man City’s standout superstar as they seek to defend their title?

David Silva was a class act last season but is a new magician set to take his spot?

Not so much a passing of the torch, but a passing of the wand.

Bernardo Silva deputised for the injured David Silva against Arsenal in Man City’s campaign opener at the Emirates and capped his fine performance with a wonderful goal.

The Portuguese midfielder’s languid swing of his left foot midway through the second half doubled his side’s lead and all but secured victory.

Still undecided on City’s new away kit

Reuters
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Still undecided on City’s new away kit

Pep Guardiola was full of praise for Bernardo during pre-season.

After City’s win over Chelsea in the Community Shield, he said: “Right now it is Bernardo Silva and ten other players.”

The Champions boast multiple superstars in nearly every position but could Bernardo by their standout player as they seek to defend their crown?

Cristiano Ronaldo-era Man United were the last team to retain the title and you can bet your life Guardiola has already been through several drafts of his masterplan designed to replicate such a feat.

At this (very) early stage, Bernardo may be the gatekeeper.

Exhibition stuff

Getty - Contributor
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Exhibition stuff

Spaniard Silva will provide stiff competition when he returns to full fitness.

The 32-year-old arguably enjoyed his best ever domestic season last term, supplementing his 11 league assists with nine goals.

However, Guardiola the perfectionist is not one to settle.

City’s Silvas are similarly blessed with natural talent and technique.

Bernardo is in possession of one of the best first touches in the game currently and shares Silva’s ability to retain possession in tight spaces.

Direct competition?

PA:Press Association
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Direct competition?

Last season, the former Monaco player featured as a right-winger, albeit behind Raheem Sterling in the pecking order.

This term, Riyad Mahrez will provide added competition among the wingers in the squad with also Leroy Sane hopeful of securing a regular starting spot.


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It makes sense then, that Bernardo would shift centrally, where his technical skills are more exaggerated, and his lack of pace somewhat disguised.

He will see more of the ball alongside Kevin De Bruyne in the middle and is capable of dictating tempo and orchestrating opportune attacks in the manner Silva did so expertly last year.

Teacher’s pet

EPA
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Teacher’s pet

Last February, when questions were asked in Bernardo was content with his role as last-20 minute substitute, Guardiola responded by telling the media that he would never such a player.

“He’ll [Bernardo] stay a long time,” he said, “while I’m here he will not move on, he will stay with me.”

There’s a sense that, while Guardiola has the utmost respect for City’s old guard (Kompany, Silva, Aguero), he would eventually prefer a squad completely of his own making.

Bernardo, Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus will be given opportunities to pin down a starting spot this season.

City’s embarrassment of riches will be near impossible to resist

Getty - Contributor
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City’s embarrassment of riches will be near impossible to resist

Guardiola’s City will have reflected on a historic 100-point title win and identified areas in which they can improve — that’s the necessary mentality.

And as good as Silva was last season, there’s a chance that an ever-improving Bernardo could allow them to function even more impressively.

It’s likely that the pair will share the duties over the course of the season as part of a mentor/apprentice dynamic.

From an established magician to an aspiring one — City look ominous once more.