It’s not often home supporters come out of their stadium after a poor result in awe of an opposition player.
Usually, your own side’s unsatisfactory performance, a dubious refereeing decision or any kind of subsequent emotional veneer clouds judgement. But Manchester City’s David Silva managed to achieve the aforementioned rare feat after his virtuoso effort against Everton in his team’s comprehensive 2-0 victory at Goodison Park.
The languid Spaniard was the topic of all the talk in the immediate aftermath of the game on Gwladys Street, as I caught fragmented snippets of the conversations of passers-by; the touch, movement, intelligence, passing and vision all channeled into a mesmerizing 90 minutes. It was his vibrant playmaking at the heart of what was an otherwise mechanistic performance by the Manchester side.
He’s certainly one of the most aesthetically pleasing players in the English game. A footballer in purest and most fundamental form. The Premier League has forged its reputation on being frantic, forceful and not for the fainthearted. But Silva rises nonchalantly above all of that bullishness with the same synonymous ease with which he floats across the pitch.
SEE MORE: Read Manchester City’s 2015/16 season preview.
It’s not the first time this writer has been bewitched by Manchester City’s No. 21, as he led Everton a merry dance in the 2013-14 term at the Etihad Stadium. But after this latest masterclass, I was left asking myself—where does David Silva rank in the overall pantheon of Premier League icons?
If he’s not rated amongst the very best already, he ought to be. The Spaniard is arguably already City’s greatest ever player, having helped the team to two league titles, one FA Cup win and a League Cup. In terms of honors accrued, they’re triumphs which stand Silva in good stead.
Individually, has Silva done enough? Perhaps you could point to his goalscoring record in English football—which stands at 34 goals from 165 Premier League appearances, per transfermarkt.com—as an area which goes against him when considering some of the outstanding attacking midfield players the division has been blessed with.
Some players belie their statistical return, though. Admittedly, you have to be very special—Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta perhaps being the most obvious example in this bespoke category—but Silva is. His 61 Premier League assists paint a picture of a major creative force. But it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Training a forensic eye on the City man is the only way you can fully appreciate his remarkable talent. Silva can carve out segments of space in convoluted midfields, receive the ball on the half turn with a delightful ease and thread passes with an unprecedented poise. Indeed, it’s tough to remember a player with such sharp cerebral instincts since the Premier League’s inception.
It’s the manner in which he enables time and space for others too. Silva’s sleight somatotype and tentative touches of the ball seem to tease defenders into pressing him, while his ability to alter the course of a match with one flick of his left boot ensures he’s closely marshaled. That’s why Yaya Toure’s forward surges into space have been so prominent down the years and why Sergio Aguero has the freedom to drop off into pockets or hang on the shoulders of defenders.
His influence has been lauded especially as of late, as Silva’s form helped City finish last season strongly and begin this one with a swagger. But ever since the Spaniard signed from Valencia in the summer of 2010, he’s played an often unheralded vim and been an understated conductor of this memorable City side.
Recently, there have been indications that the midfielder could be set to take center stage. While Silva has often facilitated an environment for others to flourish in this Manchester City team, it seems as though Manuel Pellegrini is going to create a platform to get the best from the Spaniard as a priority.
So far in 2015-16, Silva has been stationed as an orthodox No. 10, his best position, with the dynamism of Aguero in front and searing pace of Raheem Sterling and Jesus Navas flanking. For so long in his City career the man dubbed as Merlin has had to float inside from either wing or play alongside the likes of Samir Nasir and James Milner—capable players, but ones who close up the pitch instead of open it—in attacking midfield berths.
Perhaps Pellegrini has finally cottoned on to just how effective Silva can be when given a stretched pitch to survey. The massive benefits of this stylistic shift have been there for all to see in the opening weeks of the campaign as Silva has devastatingly probed at West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea and most recently the Toffees.
Hopefully it’s a move which will see Silva get the worldly recognition his remarkable ability warrants and in years to come, he will rightly be looked back upon as one of the finest players to have graced English football in modern times.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
100+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $29.99/mo. for fubo Español Package
- Watch Premier League, LaLiga, Liga MX & MLS
- Includes NBC, NBCSN, ESPN, FS1, FS2, TUDN, beIN SPORTS and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
- Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
- Watch LaLiga, Primeira Liga and Copa Libertadores
- Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $5.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $12.99/mo.)
- Features Serie A, Bundesliga, FA Cup, EFL & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
- Starting price: $5.99/mo.
- Features Champions League, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more