He is arguably the best player in Manchester City’s history and, along with Sergio Aguero, almost the most significant player in their history, but David Silva will leave the Etihad Stadium for the last time this summer, leaving the club after 10 years. In more than one way, this will leave a sizeable hole in Pep Guardiola’s squad.
Indeed, finding a replacement for the 34-year-old won’t be easy and with the January transfer window currently grinding to a halt, it will probably have to wait until summer. While Silva has been rotated in and out of City’s first team over the past two seasons, he still performs a role that few others can, linking the midfield and attack with the sort of guile and creativity Guardiola demands. Players like that are hard to come by.
Houssem Aouar deserves a look, though. The Lyon midfielder has been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium and it’s easy to see why the 21-year-old would be on the shortlist to succeed Silva. Just like the Spaniard, Aouar is technically able on the ball, capable of picking a pass and pulling the strings through the middle of the pitch. He would fit the bill.
Guardiola picked out Aouar for praise after facing Lyon in the group stages of last season’s Champions League, commenting to the media: “Houssem Aouar is a very good player, he is incredible. We talk a lot about [Tanguy] Ndombele, but Aouar is also excellent. He’s always very calm with the ball at his feet, with excellent technical quality.”
Of course, many believe Phil Foden to be the natural successor to Silva at Manchester City. The teenager has long been tipped for the top and with Silva gone, he will finally have a shot at making the attacking midfielder role in Guardiola’s team his own. But Foden’s lack of game time this season suggests Guardiola still has reservations about throwing the 19-year-old in at the deep end.
Aouar might be only two years older than Foden, but his game is more mature than the Englishman’s. There is still room for the Lyon man to improve and at the Etihad Stadium, surrounded by the likes of Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne and the rest, would seem to be the perfect place for him to do that. Foden might well be Silva’s heir in time, but City can’t afford to risk anointing him before he is truly ready.
The signing of Aouar when the window re-opens would help bridge that gap and ensure the impact of Silva’s loss is softened as much as possible.