The painful £51m transfer blunder Man City cannot afford to make this summer

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Bernardo Silva has been linked with a possible move to Paris Saint-Germain in recent days.

He is not always the first name you think of. In fact, he may not even be the fifth or sixth name that springs to mind when it comes to identifying the key players who have helped cement Manchester City in their status as the imperious monarchs of English football. Ask most casual observers and they might instead opt for Erling Haaland or Kevin de Bruyne or Ederson or Rodri or Phil Foden - somebody along those lines. But make no mistake, Bernardo Silva is absolutely vital to this sweet thing that Pep Guardiola has got going on at the Etihad.

Shockingly, as a general rule of thumb, it is usually an accepted wisdom that it is not a smart idea to let people who are 'absolutely vital' to your organisation waltz out of the exit door. At the time of writing, however, it would appear that City might have a bit of a battle on their hands if they are to prevent that exact setback from happening this summer.

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You see, Paris Saint-Germain are said to be keeping half an eye on Silva, and are reportedly eager to trigger the £51 million release clause that the midfielder has scribbled among the fine print of his current contract in Manchester. A summer bid could be in the pipeline (no oil pun intended for either party involved) and there is a version of events in which the 29-year-old is playing his football in France before the first umber leaf is tumbled by an autumnal breeze.

City cannot allow that to happen. (Silva leaving, that is. Pep still hasn't found a way of commanding the weather. Yet.) If you want to know how important the Portuguese is to City's prolonged success, you need only look at how long he has been at the club. Guardiola does not suffer fools nor does he accommodate passengers. Silva has now been in England six-and-a-half years, winning five Premier League titles and amassing 334 appearances across all competitions in that time. It is no accident, believe me.

Because above all else, Guardiola presumably sees and appreciates three undeniable qualities in his player; he is reliable, he is versatile, and he is capable of producing the kind of understated magic that no amount of money or canny scouting can necessarily guarantee.

No matter where Silva is asked to play, whether it be as a scrappy central playmaker or an infuriatingly slippery winger, he rarely delivers anything other than the sublime. His reading of the game, those nimble caresses of the ball, the manner in which he can erase three opponents from any given equation with a nonchalant dip of the shoulder and a casual turn - these things in combination not only make him a world class player, but also an ideal Guardiola player. Replacing him would not be impossible, of course, but it would not be easy either.

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Naturally, Silva's association with City cannot last forever. He will be 30 in August, and even a compassionate estimate might suggest that his current deal, which expires in the summer of 2026, will probably be his last long-term agreement in Manchester.

But just because the future looms ever larger, it does not mean that City should cut their losses yet. Silva is still an absurdly gifted player, a quiet metronome around which so much good work is inspired. PSG may well come knocking at the end of the season, but City must go out of their way to avoid answering.

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