Pep Guardiola’s Bernardo Silva admission could be the trigger Jack Grealish needs at Man City – Joe Bray

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Pep Guardiola laughed off Joan Laporta’s cheeky Bernardo Silva inquired when the pair shared a stage at the Nou Camp on Monday to announce a friendly between Barcelona and Manchester City, but he could not escape direct questioning from the media shortly afterwards.

Guardiola promised to take a strong City squad for the charity match in August, with Laporta interrupting to ask if Bernardo would be part of the squad. With rumors of Barca’s interest seemingly confirmed in an instant, Guardiola laughed and replied that Bernardo would be at the game, along with ten others.

When the announcement event was opened up to gathered media for questions, the Spanish reporters present ignored instructions to focus on the charity match and were sure not to waste their opportunity to ask Guardiola and Laporta directly about Bernardo’s future.

ALSO READ: How Man City could line up in 2022/23 without Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus

Both men kept their cards close to their chests, with Guardiola saying he expected Bernardo to remain at City but admitting he does not know what will happen and reiterating that he does not want unhappy players at City, or anyone who has not committed to the club.

Earlier in the summer, Guardiola hinted that Barcelona would not be able to afford Bernardo, while the playmaker himself has openly said he has felt homesick in his time in Manchester so would be open to a move away.

Laporta backtracked on his earlier interjection, saying the event was not the time for jokes, but did not rule out Barcelona’s interest in Bernardo and said exactly what you would expect of a Barca president – that they are in the market for all the world best players.

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It’s Guardiola’s answer that will interest City fans most, though, as he left the door open for Bernardo’s exit after a brilliant year where he was back to his Player of the Year form from 2018/19. If he is still homesick and wants to leave, City won’t stand in his way, but this summer he isn’t the only forward linked with an exit as Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus are also said to be options to leave.

Just as Guardiola said relating to Bernardo, if Sterling and Jesus do not want to fight for their place at City, then exits might have to be arranged. Yet if all three were to leave, City would go from six options across the front three positions to five given the arrivals of Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez.

Those two signings will play through the middle, so that leaves Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez to compete for the two wide positions. And if Bernardo went, that would limit City’s options in the center with Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne the only recognized central midfielders.

So maybe this is the opportunity Grealish needs to show his versatility as a left-wing threat but also in that energetic Bernardo role alongside De Bruyne.

It would require more tactical development from Grealish, and Bernardo needed a low-key season after that 2019 blockbuster to perfect his current role, but it’s nothing Grealish can do. In fact, it could combine the freedom he says he enjoys with England and the focus on possession he needs to keep at City.

Grealish has been open about his struggles in his first year, but showed signs towards the end of the season that it’s starting to click. Now he needs the confidence to kick on and the backing from Guardiola to do that. Maybe Bernardo leaving could be the kick-start he needs.

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