Every Manchester City supporter is desperately hoping Bernardo Silva will still be at the Etihad when the summer transfer window closes.
The spectre of Barcelona continues to loom large, something which is as astonishing as it is abhorrent, considering the state of the so called Catalan ‘giants’ who’ve been exposed as a bunch of morally bankrupt cheats who remain €1.4billion in debt – give or take a few quid.
If Barcelona even understood the meaning of a ‘moral compass’, theirs would be so skewed they’d be hard pressed to find their own backside in a telephone box.
It’s nothing short of grotesque that a club that has still to step back from the avarice and naked protectionism of the reviled ‘European Super League’, is still touting itself as a football powerhouse when it can’t, or won't, pay its own players.
Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong – described as a ‘generational talent’ – when he moved from Ajax in 2019, is still owed £14m in deferred wages. He’s being made to feel as welcome as a fart in a space suit by a club that he has no desire to leave, despite his employer’s appalling behaviour. Can you imagine a worse fate in football than that of being strong armed into joining Manchester Dis-United?
To his credit de Jong isn’t having it. Barcelona are desperate to ship him out and get his wages off the books, and yet Laporta claims they want him to stay when their actions clearly betray his words.
By the same token, Laporta and his mates, are claiming irregularities and even illegalities in the contract given to de Jong and other Barcelona stars, under the regime of previous club president, Josep Maria Bartomeu.
It reeks of deceit and desperation from a double-dealing hierarchy – a club devoid of honour and transparency. It must surely cast doubt on the integrity of the club’s financial records of the recent past and well beyond, but anyone who believes La Liga and UEFA are queuing up to investigate may as well be living in cloud cuckoo. Such ‘investigations’ by European football’s governing body are reserved for the likes of debt-free Manchester City, never UEFA's old guard cartel!
Not content with making de Jong’s life a living hell, they’ve insisted other players take pay cuts, players who were already owed wages deferred when the fiscal implications of Covid 19 hit hard. In some ways such measures can be justified. The pandemic knocked many a club sideways and backwards. The difference is Barcelona continue to do so whilst spending big money on Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Koundé – players they’re having difficulty registering for 2022/23, with Barca are purported to be €150million over their La Liga wage cap.
And yet Laporta, continues to make overtures about signing Bernardo!
It’s been more than hinted at that City’s beloved Bernardo would like a change of lifestyle – a warmer climate, more akin to his native Portugal – after five years in not so sunny Manchester.
From a football perspective he doesn’t have any problems with City or Pep. By his own ‘admission’ he’s said he couldn’t be in a better place, especially nowadays when he’s one of the first names on the team sheet.
Loved by the fans for his on field play and commitment and adored for his off the pitch personality and sense of humour e.g. ‘Brewnado’ when he snubbed the guard of honour for Liverpool’s solitary Premier League title, as well as having John the French Bulldog – named after team mate John Stones – Silva would be a gargantuan loss to City.
Guardiola is known to favour an approach of letting players leave if they no longer wish to stay at the Etihad, provided City get the appropriate transfer fee.
Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus were both in the last year of their City deals and weren’t prepared to sign new contracts. Banking a combined £100m in transfer fees made perfect sense.
Oleksandr Zinchenko wanted the move to Arsenal for regular first team action and the chance to play in his preferred midfield role. Given his versatility, age (25) and the fact he wasn’t in the final year of his contract, it was disappointing to see him go for just £32m.
Yes, he’d been a bargain at £1.5m when acquired from Ufa in Russia in 2016, but maybe City could, and should, have had Arteta & Co coughing up something in the region of £40m+.
Fair to say Bernardo is ‘different gravy’ compared to his three former team mates.
He still has three years to run on his contract. At just 28 – it’s his birthday today – he’s coming off the back of his most productive season in terms of goals and assists, in his time at City. As brilliant as he is, it could easily be argued the best is yet to come.
City have always played fair with players who want to leave the club, but is it in danger of being too benevolent, to the point of being a soft touch?
Bernardo proved to be a bargain at £43m when acquired from Monaco, but any potential sale – God forbid – can’t simply be measured in monetary terms. He’s truly world class. If you’re selecting a world’s best squad of 22, he’s right in there!
If he heads off to Barcelona – the club who it’s been revealed this week – sought to bribe UEFA and have City banned from the Champions League in 2020, the club who claim they are ‘Més que un club’ –more than a club – the outfit who are presently mortgaging the family silver (no pun intended) and indulging in a highly questionable game of fiscal smoke and mirrors, City must get top, top dollar.
Notwithstanding the obvious City links with Barcelona, there cannot be even the slightest whiff of any old pals act! Pep called it right when UEFA attempted to ban City when he said: “Don’t talk too loud Barcelona, that’s my advice, because everybody is involved in situations.”
Remember when Philippe Coutinho went from Liverpool to the Nou Camp for a fabled £146m in 2018 (rumour has it Liverpool are now down to the last tenner) what price do City place on a player who’s immeasurably superior?
Times change and Barcelona are now paying for the profligacy of deals such as Coutinho, but what is Bernardo’s worth, his value, not just to Barcelona but more importantly to City?
Take a look around world football, who would come remotely close as an adequate replacement before September 1st?
It’s not enough for Pep Guardiola, Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano to want to do right by a truly wonderful human being and all round lovely guy. City hold all the aces – just as Spurs did last summer with Harry Kane – and the England skipper ended up staying in London.
Football is a cut throat business and City’s triumvirate, along with Khaldoon Al Mubarak, shouldn’t be anything but resolute in dealings with Barcelona executives who clearly cannot be trusted. City aren’t there to prop up an arrogant and obnoxious regime, one that’s on record as stabbing the Blues between the shoulder blades on more than one occasion.
With its breathtaking architectural masterpieces courtesy of Antoni Gaudi, beautiful beach and balmy climate, the capital of Catalonia is an enchanting and alluring proposition, but any romanticism about FC Barcelona is horribly misplaced in the modern day.
Let’s hope any move for Bernardo doesn’t come to pass, he forgoes any pieces of dodgy Spanish silver and stays around for another Pep-led City gold rush.
Dedicated to the memory of Richard Cooper – a wonderful gentleman who passed away recently, just five months shy of his 80th birthday. He belied his years as he attended dozens of City games both home and away with his wife Val. I first met Richard in a tapas restaurant in Seville in November 2015, the day after Manuel Pellegrini’s City had beaten Sevilla 3-1 in the Champions League.
Incredibly knowledgeable about the club he loved, he would often add insight and wisdom to these RBNR blogs via his feedback. I always referred to him as ‘RC’ in our online exchanges and it was great to finally meet him in sunny Spain.
As City attempt to retain the Premier League title for an unprecedented third time in the club’s history, it won’t be the same without ‘RC’ along for the ride in the comments section.
RBNR sends its deepest condolences, sympathy and empathy to Val who will continue as a season card holder at the Etihad, albeit without Richard by her side.
It was a pleasure and a privilege - RIP RC
By David Walker