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Manchester City legend David Silva says farewell to the Premier League

  • As David Silva leaves City after 309 appearances and four Premier League titles, Lounge looks back at the career of the little magician

Manchester City's David Silva in action in his final match for Manchester City. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP)
Manchester City's David Silva in action in his final match for Manchester City. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP) (AFP)

To sum up Manchester City midfielder David Silva’s 10-year stay in the Premier League, you’ll have to go back to his first goal in the league almost a decade ago. Playing against Blackpool away at Bloomfield Road, he scored City’s third goal in what almost turned out to be a nervy affair for the visitors with a final score of 2-3.

City won a free kick in Blackpool’s half, almost near the corner flag, in stoppage time. James Milner stood over the ball, intending to swing it into the 18-yard box. Instead, he played a short pass to Silva who advanced towards the penalty area. He steadied to shoot, but it was a dummy to evade incoming defender Stephen Crainey. He moved ahead and shaped to shoot again. It was another dummy, leaving Blackpool player David Vaughan sprawled on the grass. Silva then took a touch from the outside of his left boot, and curled a shot past goalkeeper Matt Gilks into the net. Throughout his Premier League career, David Silva performed similar magical feats almost every week, as he glided around in his own little force field, while the world seemed to stand still.

Silva announced last year that he would leave the club at the end of the 2019-20 season. And so Silva's 83-minutes outing in City's final game of the season against Norwich City on 26 July proved to be his final Premier League appearance. City strolled to a comfortable 5-0 win against relegated Norwich, and the match seemed to be just an excuse for players, coaches, commentators and pundits to heap encomiums on the Spaniard.

Speaking on the pre-match programme, former Manchester United player Ryan Giggs said, “Forget about the stats, he’s more than that... he’s a player that demands respect. He’s brilliant to watch." Alongside him, former Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood lauded the player’s professionalism. “His attitude has been the same since the day he walked into the club when (current City manager) Pep (Guardiola) wasn’t around, till today. He trains like it’s the last day of the world. He’s out there on his own… He’s a one-off," he added.

Whilst he didn’t score on Sunday, the 34-year-old still controlled the game like he has always done throughout his stupendous career with City: four Premier League wins, two FA Cups and four League Cups, among the major trophies.

Silva signed for City from Spanish club Valencia ahead of the 2010-11 season on the back of a victorious World Cup campaign with Spain. He was one of the many expensive summer arrivals at the club, along with the likes of Yaya Touré and Jerome Boateng. City was on the rise thanks to the lavish investments of the Abu Dhabi United Group, which purchased the club in 2008. But the 24 million pounds City paid for Silva back then now looks like one of the deals of the decade.

He ended his first season in England with 53 appearances across all competitions and played a key role in City winning the 2010-11 FA Cup, their first major trophy in 35 years. Next year, he would help City win the league after 44 years. With 15 assists and 6 goals in the league that season, Silva was one of the key components of City’s winning midfield.

There were, however, some initial doubts about him. Many pundits and fans feared that his slight frame and lack of pace would expose him to the bustle of the English game. And yet, the Spaniard proved everybody wrong season after season. Speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan recently, Silva’s former teammate Micah Richards said: “Yes, he was small but that was never going to stop him. He was just a different class to anything we'd seen before."

Silva typifies the classical left-footed attacking midfielder, with a low centre of gravity, a quick brain and an uncanny ability to pick a telling pass. Richards says what set Silva apart was his ability to “run the game for you" and “set the tempo every single week". “Playing the killer forward pass is the hardest thing to do in football… and he wants to do it every time he gets on the ball. Wherever he is on the pitch, he's never afraid to try," adds Richards.

The numbers back up his talent. Silva has played 309 times for City in the league, scoring 60 goals and providing 93 assists. That puts him sixth in the all-time Premier League assists list, behind only Dennis Bergkamp, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fàbregas and Ryan Giggs. His tally of 18,801 passes is fourth highest in the Premier League’s list of all-time player stats. He has also come up with 455 accurate long balls during this time and averaged close to 61 passes per match.

Silva’s also been impeccably disciplined as a player, with just 32 yellow cards and no red cards in his Premier League career. When he had the ball at his feet, the chances of a mistake were almost nil. According to the Premier League stats, he's made zero errors that has led to an opponent scoring against City. And, for an attacking midfielder, his 71% tackle success rate is quite brilliant.

There was recent talk of whether or not David Silva should get a statue at the City's Etihad Stadium when he departs. He has been, after all, a brilliant symbol of the club’s rise to dominance, alongside club legends Vincent Kompany and Sergio Agüero. A fifth league title would have perhaps sufficed, but City were dethroned as Premier League champions this season by an excellent Liverpool side. Winning the Champions League this season remains a distinct possibility, and there would be no better farewell that for the little magician to lift Old Big Ears in the sky blue of City, the only cup that has eluded them, and Silva, so far.

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