It is quite often the case that players enter the Premier League and capture our imaginations. Bruno Fernandes is a current example of this – his re-energisation of Manchester United has excited not only Red Devil followers but neutrals and even rival supporters. However, these talented players don’t always maintain the promising light that they displayed initially. Özil’s inconsistent performances and ability to divide the fanbase is an obvious case study. But what if I were to tell you that there has been a player who has been doing this in the Premier League for ten years?
There has been a lot of talk recently about David Silva – and rightly so. Is he the best midfielder in Premier League history? The ultimate Spaniard? One of the all-time greats?! But why are these questions only being asked now? David Silva has consistently proved himself at the top level for a decade and yet he has slipped under the radar for the most part. Maybe this is because of his quiet personality, his silent expertise, maybe even his height. Whatever the reason, it is a travesty that David Silva will not receive the send-off he deserves when the curtain falls down on this bizarre experiment of a season. He probably wouldn’t have an awful lot to say, just humbly taken his leave, but he certainly deserves to know how much the City fans and his colleagues adore his character, as well as the level of respect world football has for him in general.
In the time in which David Silva has graced the Premier League, nobody has created more chances or assisted more goals.
David Silva operates between the lines that us mere mortals cannot see. “Merlin”, as he is nicknamed at City, magically pops up in all the right places whilst remaining almost invisible; as if out of a H.G. Wells novel, wrapped in bandages, Silva has the ability to sneak behind opponents, leading his team to victory. His balance and poise allow him to combine several movements into one and his incredible vision has him pulling apart defensive lines with ease, as if it is only he who has the power to tear the sword from the stone. His invisibility exists off the pitch too. For all of City’s glitz and glamour, the money and the bling, his quiet humbleness brings balance and honesty to a team and an institution that needs it. Amazon’s All or Nothing (2018) series showed us behind the scenes of City’s 2017-18 campaign as well as the true place Silva has in the hearts and minds of everyone at the club. After his son Matteo was born prematurely, Silva missed several games that season with one invoking a passionate pre-game speech from Guardiola: ‘We have to win this for David and his girlfriend. He’s fucking suffering in life. When you go out there and enjoy it, you enjoy it for him’.
Silva’s recent domination of Newcastle truly showed the Premier League fans what they will be missing. He led the way for touches (136), passes (112), opposition-half passes (sixty-five), duels (fourteen), possession gained (six), tackles (two), shots (four) and assists (two)…oh, and scored a beautifully placed free kick. Such a performance from the thirty-four-year-old reminded me of where it all began. 23 October 2011 was the day that I felt the momentum shift. City’s 6-1 demolition of Manchester United at Old Trafford was a sign of greater things to come. United had dominated English football for the majority of my childhood but here was a team who were about to put a stop to that. David Silva got on the scoresheet that day and had a trademark game as the heartbeat of the team. But it was his volleyed pass to Edin Džeko for the final goal that I remember so keenly (even before I think about Mario Balotelli’s ‘Why Always Me?’ antics) for it was quite simply, and still is, one the best passes that I have ever seen.
In the time in which David Silva has graced the Premier League, nobody has created more chances or assisted more goals. So, where does this player rank? Who is better than he? Who is worthy of comparison? Does he deserve a statue? The real answer is, it doesn’t matter. What matters are our memories, our enjoyment, the entertainment given to us by one of the finest players this sport has ever produced. There is a lot to be said with Manchester City’s financial dealings recently, but one thing is for sure – I’m glad that they gave me the chance to watch David Silva.