Barcelona, ​​Manchester City and Bernardo Silva’s future

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There have been hundreds of rumors, missed chances and one or two completed transfers. It has been impossible to have a recent transfer window without reports about potential deals involving Manchester City and Barcelona.

An illustrious list of names has included Lionel Messi and Raheem Sterling but extends to Frenkie de Jong, Ilkay Gundogan, Ferran Torres, Sergi Roberto and Eric Garcia. Now it is Bernardo Silva’s turn.

After the announcement of a friendly between the two sides on August 24, to raise funds for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research, Barcelona president Joan Laporta started with a joke.

“It won’t be a friendly game, right? Will you bring Bernardo Silva and all your stars? ” he asked Pep Guardiola.

“We will bring all the ‘big guns’. It is going to be Bernardo (Silva) and 10 more players in the line-up, ”the City manager replied.

Guardiola was asked later on about the Portuguese’s future.

“As of today, I think Bernardo Silva will stay with us,” he said. “Our goal, as a club, is for him to stay. This is our intention, although we have always said we do not want unhappy players in the squad. ”

Manchester City


Guardiola with Bernardo following City’s FA Cup semi-final defeat in April (Photo: Matt McNulty – Manchester City / Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

City want to keep Bernardo and believe they will, while Barcelona are choked by debt. Those two facts make it hard to understand where the potential transfer saga comes from, but that is the summer market for you.

The rumors have not popped up out of the blue. The first to put Bernardo’s name in front of Barcelona was his agent, Jorge Mendes.

On June 8, Mendes had dinner at Via Veneto restaurant in Barcelona with such senior club figures as Laporta and sporting director Mateu Alemany.

Bernardo was mentioned as a player interested in joining the Catalans’ project. Getting him out of Manchester, though, would require significant work.

As of today, City have not received a formal offer. Mainly because Barcelona cannot afford it.

The Athletic understands the player’s camp is relaxed, realizing the 27-year-old’s future lies in others’ hands. He is enjoying his holiday and is due to report back to Manchester on July 11.

This is the second summer in a row Bernardo has wanted to move to Spain but there is no sense that he is about to force the issue.

Last year, after being informed the move he had been expecting would not materialize, he accepted his situation, hugged Guardiola and went on to have perhaps his best season in a City shirt.

But, typically, La Liga president Javier Tebas has added a bit of spice to the whole affair.

“If FC Barcelona successfully activates their economic levers, they will be able to sign (Robert) Lewandowski, Bernardo Silva and other players,” he declared on Thursday.

This was different to his words at the start of June – “Barca can’t sign Lewandowski” – which provoked quite a response at Camp Nou.

The club’s board were meeting when Tebas’ words appeared on social media. Soon after, Laporta received an urgent call from Pini Zahavi, Lewandowski’s agent, asking for an explanation.

Laporta cooled the situation by insisting their chase for the Bayern Munich striker was still on. Then he blasted Tebas’ quotes in a public statement.

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Lewandowski


Signing Lewandowski appears to be Barcelona’s priority this summer (Photo: Sven Hoppe / picture alliance via Getty Images)

There was some truth to Tebas’ words, though: Barcelona can only make an offer if they free up enough cash.

Right now, for every € 1 that Barcelona spend, they need to recoup € 3. They are pressing ahead with commercial deals that may make that a possibility but it is far from assured.

City’s stance is the same as it is for any other player: they will not chain him to a contract against his will. If anybody in the squad wishes to leave, they know they only need to bring one thing: a formal offer matching their market value.

Usually, though, this is not easy to find. Ask Nicolas Otamendi in the summer of 2019 or Aymeric Laporte and Raheem Sterling last year.

And, after an impressive season, it is almost impossible to value Bernardo below £ 80 million.

City have previously tried to avoid this altogether by testing the ground for giving Bernardo a new contract. Conversations started during the final stages of Joao Cancelo’s renewal talks in February, as Cancelo and Bernardo share Mendes as their agent.

The club also contacted Bernardo’s family. All the feedback they got was incredibly positive, highlighting how the Portuguese was enjoying his game and life in Manchester again.

Style-wise, all parties were certain that City are the perfect match for Bernardo but after those informal discussions, it was agreed the best scenario would be to stick with his current deal at the Etihad, which runs until the summer of 2025.

That offers a glimmer of hope to Barcelona but a lot of events need to unfold for them to make the tables turn.

One thing is activating their well-documented “economic levers” and securing Lewandowski’s arrival, which appears to be the club’s priority in this transfer window. Then there are the more delicate matters of easing their economic pressures with commercial deals and selling De Jong.

It is no secret in Barcelona just how much Xavi, the manager, admires Bernardo. The news coming out of the club is that he would push for the Portuguese if De Jong ends up heading to Manchester United.

Yet at the same time, Xavi has been assured he does not plan to offload the Netherlands midfielder at all.

“For me, Frenkie (de Jong) is so important. He’s fundamental. But then we have the economic state of the club. I believe De Jong could define an era at this club but we’ll see what happens, ”Xavi said in May.

If De Jong is leaving only for economic reasons, how would a blockbuster deal for Bernardo take place just after that?

A couple of weeks ago, there were voices in the Camp Nou pleading with current players to lower their salaries for another time. How can a big-money transfer be considered in these circumstances?

Meanwhile, Bernardo could be seen on social media enjoying his days off diving into the waters of the Mediterranean in Saint-Tropez.

That is, most likely, the best thing a footballer can do when your name is brought into the spotlight in the summer transfer market.

(Top photo: James Gill – Danehouse / Getty Images)

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