It’s finally over. At least for now. Bernardo Silva is not leaving Manchester City for Barcelona or any other club for that matter, in this transfer window. So says City boss Pep Guardiola. The manager broke the news in the press conference ahead of City’s encounter with Crystal Palace.
It is good news for most City faithful. Many of whom have hoped that the transfer never materialized. That’s mainly because of the importance of the player to the team. For those, this is great news. In fact, it even calls for celebration.
So what could possibly be wrong with this development? What’s the bad news about the midfielder remaining at the Etihad Stadium?
The bad news is the reason for which the Portuguese is staying. Silva is staying at City for another year (or maybe just for another six months) because no one has made an offer. Not because he wants to be here or that the club is ready to do anything to convince him to stay.
The manager made this clear when he addressed reporters ahead of the Crystal Palace game.
“Bernardo Silva will stay at Man City, there are no negotiations,” Guardiola told the media.
“He will stay here. We don’t have any phone call from any club regarding Bernardo Silva. That’s why he will stay. I tell you, he will stay.”
The significance of this scenario becomes apparent when juxtaposed against the transfer policy of other European heavyweights. The most successful teams in Europe are that way for a few reasons. One of the most important ones is that keeping their best players for as long as possible enables them reap huge rewards from their experience.
Sure, any player is free to decide to leave for their own reasons. But the club should not be facilitating the move to the extent of even inviting direct rivals on the continent to come get our best weapons and then line them up against us. Not even by using the excuse that they are not happy here.
Ways can always be found to make the player happy. The issues can be addressed if the player is that important. That can be done without affecting the balance in the team. Pain points can always be addressed to make an important player happy.
But for Guardiola to even go as far as expressing how much Silva loves Barcelona when he is still under contract at the Etihad Stadium, that’s simply unacceptable. That’s the job of the player’s agent, not City's manager.
Whatever happened to not speaking about a player’s transfer speculation because he is contracted to another club? It’s been used by many managers and club executives in the past. Even Guardiola has deployed it on several occasions before. But not when the player is linked to Barcelona.
The Bernardo Silva to Barcelona episode is looking more and more like Guardiola trying hard to convince his beloved club to take the player from City. But they are just not cooperating. Current circumstances at Camp Nou are not helping matters too.
For now though, Silva will need to set aside all the noise and get down to work at City for the new campaign. But the speculation will return in the Winter or Summer transfer window. Maybe by then the Spanish giants will finally be in a position to get their man, leaving City with a hole in the squad to fill.
The talk of being homesick is baseless in this regard as he will be readjusting to life in a new league and new country. Far away from his native land and the familiar surroundings he grew up in and built relationships while making his way up the football ladder at Benfica.
Barca will not let any of their important players leave easily, even when the player wants to. Why should Man City do?
For example, Barcelona president Joan Laporta refused to sell Frenkie De Jong to Manchester United, forcing them to look for alternatives and settle for 30-year-old Casemiro.
Speaking at a press conference about interest from other clubs in De Jong, Laporta said: “He’s a Barca player and if we don’t have the need, we won’t sell him. We don’t want to sell him.
“We know he has offers, but right now we’re not selling this player.”
Why should Man City be entertaining questions about Bernardo to Barca in every press conference? Why should Silva’s stay be conditioned on lack of offers rather than the club’s best interests?
There are different club sides run on different models. Some like Borussia Dortmund, Monaco, Sevilla and several around Europe raise talented young players and then sell them off to bigger clubs for huge paydays. City are not in that category.
City have built a reputation for buying and keeping the best. Not serving as a feeder team to European heavyweights. Guardiola should not change that.