There is something about David Silva. Year after year the Manchester City playmaker is one of the Premier League’s top performers, yet it is hard to shake the feeling that he is still curiously underappreciated after all this time. Perhaps the Spain international will only receive an adequate level of recognition once he has departed English football – as they say, you often do not know what you have got until it is gone – but that would be a great shame. Silva, after all, is quite simply one of the greatest foreign imports to have graced the Premier League and should duly be acknowledged as such.
City have won two titles since their current ownership assumed control in 2008, and Silva was integral to both successes. In 2011/12, when Roberto Mancini’s men triumphed ahead of Manchester United in the most dramatic circumstances imaginable, Silva contributed six goals, 15 assists and many more standout displays. Two years later, when City again finished on top of the pile under the guidance of Manuel Pellegrini, Silva scored seven, set up nine and inspired his side to silverware, particularly with his showings in big games. Yet he still never really got the love he deserved.
His personality probably contributes to the whole issue. Silva comes across as a quiet, understated individual. He is not a brand, he does not appear on many television commercials and he rarely gives interviews in English. The former Valencia man tends to disappear from the public eye once he has finished playing football for 90 minutes on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
Even his playing style can be said to have a similar effect. Silva is not exactly a regular goal-getter and even assists, the statistic principally employed to judge creative players of his kind, do not adequately represent the City schemer’s influence. An average of just over nine per Premier League season since he first arrived at the Etihad Stadium is certainly impressive, yet it is much harder to accurately measure the control he exerts. Silva has the rare ability to run a game, bringing the tempo under his command and directing both team-mates and opponents with his mastery in possession. He is a builder of moves, an enabler for others to take the glory.
Silva was not written off prior to Pep Guardiola’s appointment, but some did question whether he had the requisite dynamism to shine under the Catalan. As it happened, he was arguably City’s best player last season, often from a slightly deeper role which colleague Kevin De Bruyne termed a ‘free eight’. This alteration in position meant he was directly involved in only 11 of his team’s top-flight goals, but there was no doubting that Silva was frequently the driving force behind Guardiola’s side.
This upcoming campaign will be the Spaniard’s eighth in English football, and he will hope to end it with a third Premier League winner’s medal. Silva, you feel, will be integral to City’s chances of success – just like he always is.