At the time, it was considered a good signing, but the transfer of David Silva to Manchester City wasn’t given the sort of reaction the likes of Robinho and Sergio Aguero received. The Spaniard had shown his quality at Valencia, but nobody predicted that he’d become the face of the Etihad Stadium side.
Some might argue that 10 years later Silva has never been the face of Man City. At times, Silva has flown under the radar, never receiving the credit he probably deserves. With the 33-year-old now preparing for his final season as a City player, there is a question worth asking – has there ever been a better Premier League midfielder?
“This is the last one,” Silva explained in an interview. “Ten years for me is enough. It’s the perfect time for me. Initially, City were talking about two [more] years. It completes the cycle. It’s a nice round figure. I can never see myself playing against City for another team. So 10 years – that’s it.”
Of course, some will put forward the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes as contenders for that unofficial accolade – best midfielder in the history of the Premier League. There’s also a case of classification – how can someone like Roy Keane or Ngolo Kante be compared to Robert Pires, for instance? And what about wingers? Do they count as midfielders?
Nonetheless, it’s worth considering the legacy Silva will leave behind at Manchester City and in the Premier League. The technical level he has brought to the English game has raised the water level of the whole league. Now, midfielders in particular are expected to be able to dictate the pace of games in the way Silva does and has done for the past decade.
The exit of Silva will mark the end of an era at the Etihad. He was central to the first phase of the Abu Dhabi project at Manchester City, helping to establish the club as a force. City made a habit of making statement signings in the early days of the Abu Dhabi takeoever (see Robinho, Aguero and Samir Nasri), but it was Silva who set a precedent on the pitch for the club.
Finding a replacement for Silva won’t be easy. City will hope Phil Foden can step into the void left by the Spaniard, but there’s no guarantee that the teenager will continue his development. Otherwise, they will have to spend big to find a successor for a player who holds a claim to being the Premier League’s best ever midfielder.
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