Bernardo Silva looked set to leave Manchester City in the recent transfer window, but has made a brilliant start to 2021-22.
Pep Guardiola hailed match-winner Bernardo Silva after Manchester City made it three wins on the bounce on Saturday.
Silva was the standout performer as City beat Leicester City 1-0 at the King Power Stadium to sit one point behind Premier League pacesetters Manchester United.
The Portugal playmaker scored the decisive goal in the 62nd minute, had two other attempts on target and created three chances, behind only Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish (both four).
Silva had been expected to leave City in the recent transfer window, with Guardiola confirming in August that the 27-year-old was hoping to find a new club.
Yet with no suitors coming in, Silva has nevertheless kept up his level over the early part of the season, filling in for the injured Kevin De Bruyne in midfield and often working in tandem with £100million man Grealish.
“Bernardo is back in the best form and mentality. He is an exceptional player and we know it,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.
Expanding further in his news conference, Guardiola said: “He [Bernardo] played really well the last two games. Again today the connection with Jack and Joao Cancelo was brilliant.
“In general, it was all of them. We had the quality to put the ball in the right spots.
“I like to have one or two players in the side who go to the natural side. So when Grealish plays right and Gundo plays right, they have to turn. When Bernardo plays with Jack he can make a cross. We need some on their natural side.”
With City failing in their pursuits of Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo – who netted twice on his second United debut on Saturday – Guardiola is without an out-and-out centre-forward, though the Premier League champions have still scored 11 goals across their last three matches.
Nine players have been responsible, and Guardiola insisted sharing the goals around has to be the way forward for City this term.
“We score the last 11 goals from nine different players,” he continued. “It’s the only way to sustain our level.
“We played really well from the first minute. After the international break, you always have doubts. We were a high level again for three weeks in a row. We had many chances and could have scored more goals. This is a step we still need to take.”
City had 25 shots to Leicester’s six, dominating the Foxes, who thrashed them on the road last season and also won the Community Shield game last month.
“What can I say? The keeper is the best player of the Leicester team because we did many, many good things,” reflected Guardiola.
“You have to be patient. Of course I’m happy with the three points. Our performance was outstanding.
“Leicester, like the last years, have always been fighting until the end. I’m very pleased. If you are able to score or shoot, I don’t know how many, it is because you are doing very good things. Kasper Schmeichel is an incredible keeper and saves these goals.”