The culmination of the inaugural UEFA Nations League competition saw Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal win their second international trophy in three years as Gonzalo Guedes’ strike on the hour-mark secured a narrow 1-0 victory against the Netherlands in the final at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto. One crucial player, however, in both games for Portugal was Manchester City star Bernardo Silva. The 24 year-old set up two late goals for Cristiano Ronaldo in the semi-final against Switzerland to help his side qualify for the final. And it was Bernardo’s cut-back in the final which Guedes curled past Jasper Cillessen to bring home the title.
For his outstanding efforts in the tournament, Bernardo Silva was named UEFA Nations League Player of the Tournament in what was his first triumph with the national team. The former Monaco midfielder has been a revelation with Manchester City since his £43 million signing in 2017.
Although he spent most of the first season making substitute appearances, he still managed to play a key role in Manchester City’s “centurion” Premier League triumph and Carabao Cup victory. In the 2018-19 season, however, Bernardo quickly became one of the first names on Pep Guardiola’s team-sheet.
He kickstarted the season with a wonderful volleyed-goal away to Arsenal and went onto contribute 13 goals and 14 assists in all competitions. Bernardo, who prefers to play as a central midfielder, kept Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane out of the Manchester City starting XI for large parts of the season, both of them being two of the world’s best wingers.
The Portuguese playmaker ended the season with four domestic trophies and was announced Manchester City’s Etihad Player of the Year at their victory parade. He also found himself on the Premier League Team of the Season.
Adding his accomplishments with Portugal last night, Bernardo has now lifted five trophies this season along with receiving two individual honours which has suddenly made him a serious contender for the coveted Ballon D’or award.
Former Celtic goalkeeper Packie Bonner was appointed as one of UEFA Technical Observers during the Nations League tournament and the Irishman expressed his admiration for Bernardo Silva. “He showed his level of quality in creating goals; his overall performance in the two games was outstanding. Had a positive influence on the team both in and out of possession”, he said.
Lionel Messi is yet again a contender for the Ballon D’or given his unbelievable stats domestically and in Europe backed up by another La Liga title. PFA Player of the Year winner Virgil van Dijk is also a strong candidate for the Ballon D’or honour after he lead Liverpool to their sixth Champions League title.