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TALKING POINTS: Week 37: Bernardo Silva thrives under pressure

You are reading the Get French Football News Talking Points Column, written by Eric Devin.

When Monaco announced that their loan of Benfica’s Bernardo Silva had been made permanent for an eye-watering €15.75 million, to say eyebrows were raised was an understatement. With only two goals and assist to his name at the time, the Portuguese youngster had demonstrated considerable potential, if not consistency, but for a club attempting to scale back in the wake of Dimitri Rybolovlev’s financial woes, it seemed excessive. Representing the highest amount paid by a French club aside from Paris Saint-Germain in the year, and the fifth-highest in Europe in the January window, Silva faced immense pressure to live up to expectations. However, despite his youth and relative inexperience, the diminutive winger has become key toMonaco’s European aspirations for next season, forming one of Ligue 1’s most potent front lines with Anthony Martial and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco. 

This weekend proved no exception, as Silva was involved in both goals in Monaco’s 2-0 victory over Metz. The goal came on the stroke of halftime, some ten minutes after Silva had done brilliantly well to run onto a chipped pass from Joao Moutinho, firing only just wide as ‘keeper David Oberhauser rushed off his line for the game’s best chance to that point. Coming as it did with the news that Marseille had opened a 2-0 lead at Lille, necessitating a win for Monaco to retain third place, the drive that the pair showed to create the goal was more than impressive.  

Moutinho battled on the left side with Roman Metanire, won a throw-in, taking it quickly to find Silva in stride running towards goal. Letting the ball bounce twice, the winger fired the ball into the opposite corner just as Oberhauser came out to claim, netting with his first touch and giving Monaco the lead. The move had a certain amount of luck to it, but the presence that Silva showed to withstand the challenge of Guirane N’Daw, not go down easily and get off a fine finish showed tremendous awareness, and was emblematic of his recent play.  

Taking the reins from previously in-form Anthony Martial, the goal was Silva’s sixth in as many games, taking him level with the former Lyon player as the team’s leading scorer on the season. Perhaps with last week’s collapse against Monaco fresh in his mind, Silva continued to drive his team forward in their quest for a second, Ferreira-Carrasco somehow just missing after a layoff from the Portuguese after the two were clear on goal just after the interval. As Metz had had their fair share of chances to equalize, Silva’s energy was important to seal the performance as he did with a teasing assist for Valere Germain some five minutes from time.

For such a young player, and one not used to the pressure of chasing European qualification, the way in which Silva has led this team in the last six weeks is truly miraculous after an indifferent start to the season. Should he aid Monaco in getting a vital win against Lorient on Saturday, assuring a return to the Champions’ League, his much remarked-upon transfer fee could soon be worth every penny, maturing into another in a seemingly never-ending string of exciting young attackers in Ligue 1.

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