Bernardo Silva next? Manchester City XI of legends they haven’t missed

Will Ford
Aguero Gundogan Silva
Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan are among the Man City legends they've not missed.

As has been the case in a number of transfer windows over the last three years or so, rumours are circulating over Bernardo Silva’s future at Manchester City.

The six-time Premier League winger, described by Pep Guardiola as “one of the best I’ve ever coached” could ‘betray’ his manager this summer by upping sticks, with one report claiming he’s set to move to Barcelona in search of better weather; another says he’ll reject the Catalans in favour of Paris Saint-Germain.

Guys, we don’t know what to believe, but it’s got us wondering whether the Portuguese magician’s departure might actually stop the Manchester City trophy train in its tracks. It doesn’t feel like there are many, if any, players around with his skillset.

That said, there have been plenty of City heroes over the last decade or so that we thought they would struggle to replace when in fact they have ploughed on without skipping a beat.

Vincent Kompany is the exception, as Liverpool claimed the Premier League at a canter the season after he left for Anderlecht, but Ruben Dias’ subsequent arrival initiated the current era of absolute dominance.

Anyway, here’s an incredible XI of wonderful footballers that City haven’t missed, led by another of their cast-offs…


Manager: Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta’s success at Arsenal has ushered in an era of Pep Guardiola disciple obsession, with teams the world over assuming that whatever the Gunners boss has absorbed from the great man, the rest of them must have too. It’s worked out very well for Bayer Leverkusen but we’re less convinced by Bayern Munich’s decision to appoint a relegated manager and Chelsea’s to hire a guy whose biggest ever win was away at Stoke City.

Anyway, Arteta’s good, and will probably be back one day.


GK: Joe Hart
It’s easy after seven years of Ederson for us to turn our noses up at what Hart did for Manchester City. Guardiola wanted a goalkeeper who was more comfortable in possession, and fair enough, but that was Claudio Bravo initially, who was more than a little ropey when it came to the real goalkeeping stuff that Hart excelled at.

He was the undisputed England No.1 in the seven years before he was ousted from the City first team, in which time he won the Golden Glove on four occasions.


RB: Pablo Zabaleta
Like when an old dog needs putting out of its misery, Zabaleta wasn’t going to give Manchester City a sign that it was time, but it was. Very much in that Branislav Ivanovic mould of right-backs who would rather die of shame than have a winger go past them with their legs intact, the question wasn’t whether Zabaleta needed replacing but how Guardiola came to the conclusion that Kyle Walker – Tottenham’s raiding, carefree wide man – was the man to replace him. We didn’t account for the manager’s fun-sucking force.


CB: Fernandinho
The Brazilian was very much playing second fiddle to Rodri by the time he left the club two years ago, but people were questioning whether the Spaniard was the man to be Fernandinho’s long-term replacement in his debut season as Liverpool finished 18 points clear. That was also in large part down to City’s weird decision not to replace Kompany, mind, with Fernandinho forced to operate at centre-back for much of the 2019/20 campaign.


CB: Aymeric Laporte
Named in the Premier League team of the season in his first full campaign, in which City conceded just 23 goals, we genuinely wondered whether we had ever seen a centre-back look so unflustered and effortlessly brilliant and assumed that Laporte would be a Premier League stalwart for years to come. But injuries and Guardiola’s obsession with signing at least one world-class centre-back a year quickly saw Laporte a long way down the pecking order.


LB: Joao Cancelo
Arguably not just the best full-back but the best player in the Premier League in his last full season before leaving in January for Bayern Munich, supposedly for being a disruptive little so-and-so. How do you replace the best left-back in the Premier League? You don’t. You play a centre-back at left-back and win the Treble.

👉 Man City star ‘does not understand’ Guardiola and ‘offers himself’ to Barcelona
👉 A Sir Jim Ratcliffe-like summer transfer rule for each Premier League club
👉 Man City, Arsenal or Liverpool? Shearer, Lineker and Richards predict who will win PL title next season


CM: Ilkay Gundogan
Only Rodri, Ederson and Erling Haaland played more minutes than Gundogan in their Treble-winning season last term and for a while it did feel like his departure for Barcelona might prove costly. Matheus Nunes still looks like a complete misstep but Mateo Kovacic came good in the last few weeks of the season to provide a similar serenity to proceedings as his midfield predecessor.


CM: Yaya Toure
Toure played a big part as Manchester City claimed their first ever Premier League title in his debut season and he continued to be the lynchpin in their midfield, rampaging forward and scoring goals, for the next six campaigns before Guardiola arrived. The guy who also sold him to City from Barcelona didn’t see the need for him, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, so signed Gundogan to play behind his preferred two and sent Toure on his way. City got 100 points that season, winning the title with five games to spare.


RW: Riyad Mahrez
He got 78 goals and 56 assists for Manchester City, a goal contribution every 110 minutes, and – be honest – you’ve already forgotten about him. His departure combined with what’s proven to be the far more significant exit of Cole Palmer should have been more than the slight inconvenience it’s been for Manchester City this season. Guardiola has sidestepped the issue of not really having a right winger on his books by not really playing with a right winger. Simple.

READ NEXTRiyad Mahrez will leave Man City for Saudi Arabia without the plaudits he deserves


AM: David Silva
The football hipsters will claim that he’s Manchester City’s greatest ever player, despite definitely actually knowing that the correct answer is De Bruyne. That’s hardly a burn on Silva though, who was – if we’re to give him a City accolade – probably the most beautiful player to watch.

His departure paved the way for Phil Foden, who’s scored 72 goals in the four seasons since Silva left for Real Sociedad, winning the Premier League on all four occasions, as many as Silva won in his decade-long stint at the Etihad.


LW: Raheem Sterling
In a three-season period between 2017 and 2020 Sterling scored 79 goals, a combination of cutting-in curlers and back post tap-ins. In a bid to enure City wouldn’t miss Sterling’s goalscoring ability when he left for Chelsea, Guardiola signed Haaland, who scored 54 goals in his debut season.


ST: Sergio Aguero
A total of 260 goals in 390 games for City at an extraordinary rate of one every 106 minutes and in the eyes of many fans an irreplaceable genius. So Pep didn’t bother replacing him for a while. In the season after him and before Haaland, City scored 99 goals to win the Premier League title.