Manchester United have been linked with £70m move for Bernardo Silva – but who is the Monaco midfielder?
The 22-year-old is seen as one of the brightest stars in Portugal and he has been a key figure for Monaco so far this season with four goals and four assists, helping the French club to the top of Ligue 1.
And Jose Mourinho has reportedly made his fellow countryman a key priority in the summer transfer window, so here’s all you need to know about the midfielder ahead of a potential switch to Old Trafford…
A product of Benfica’s academy, Silva progressed quickly through the ranks of the Portuguese club after joining as an eight-year-old.
He earned his first Benfica B call-up in 2013, but a first-team debut followed just a few months later when he came off the bench in the 80th minute for the Taca de Portugal victory over Cinfaes.
Silva made a couple more appearances, one in the Taca de Portugal and then he appeared off the bench again against Porto on the final day of Benfica’s 2013/14 title-winning campaign.
However, it is with Benfica B that the midfielder began to make his name, making 38 appearances and scoring seven goals in the Segunda Liga.
His displays earned him the Segunda Liga Breakthrough Player award, and he subsequently impressed at the 2013 UEFA European U19 Championship as Portugal reached the semi-finals.
Silva was one of 23 players selected by a UEFA technical team for the Team of the Tournament. He featured on the list alongside the likes of Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte and PSG midfielder Adrien Rabiot.
With Silva’s path into Benfica’s treble-winning team uncertain, he was loaned to Monaco in the summer of 2014.
He made enough of an impact in his first six months with the Ligue 1 side that they turned his season-long loan into a permanent deal in January 2015. He scored nine goals and laid on three assists as Monaco qualified for the Champions League.
This season he has continued that form for Leonardo Jardim’s side, who are top of Ligue 1 and into the last 16 of the Champions league, where they will play Manchester City.
Silva made his full Portugal debut in a 2-0 friendly defeat to Cape Verde in March 2015. He has since gone on to make 10 appearances for his country, scoring one goal.
He was tipped to make Portugal’s squad for Euro 2016 but an injury, which he picked up in Monaco’s penultimate match of last season, ruled him out.
However, he did feature at the UEFA European U21 Championship in the summer of 2015.
Silva was a key figure during the tournament as Portugal beat England on their way to the final, before losing to Sweden on penalties.
He scored in his side’s 5-0 semi-final win over Germany and was named in the Team of the Tournament.
Style of play
Silva, who plays in the mould of a traditional number 10, is know for his movement, dribbling ability and superb left foot.
This was showcased in Monaco’s 2-1 victory against Tottenham at Wembley in September, when the Portugal international scored his side’s opening goal.
Picking up the ball after Erik Lamela’s slack pass, Silva ran at the Spurs defence and with Jan Vertonghen standing off him, the midfielder produced a brilliant finish with his left foot to beat the dive of Hugo Lloris.
Silva is not blessed with size, standing at just 5ft 8in, but what he lacks in physical stature he makes up for in technical skill and ability to read the game.
His style has been likened to that of Manchester City star David Silva.
What they said…
“I think Portugal now have a good generation with lots of good young players in midfield mostly but I think Bernardo Silva, who plays for Monaco, could be one of the greatest players in the world.
“He has a lot of quality. He is a good player. He takes risks. That’s why I like him. He can be the No 10 of the national team for years.” – Deco on Bernardo Silva.
How would he fit in?
It’s not difficult to see why Silva has been linked with a move to Old Trafford.
Firstly, the midfielder is represented by super-agent Jorge Mendes, who also represents Mourinho. This could make any potential deal easier to get across the line. However, it’s Silva’s performances on the pitch that have caught the eye of Mourinho.
He can play anywhere in the three positions behind the main strikers, and while United are well stocked in those positions with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Martial, none have really cemented their place in the side since the Portuguese boss arrived at Old Trafford.
Should Mourinho make a summer move for the 22-year-old, Silva could be handed the chance to be United’s playmaker for years to come.