Bernardo Silva (blue) the striker in focus for City
Bernardo Silva (blue) the striker in focus for City
Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP

Manchester: Manchester City host struggling Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday with Pep Guardiola hoping that Bernardo Silva maintains his recent return to something approaching the peak of his powers.

Portuguese playmaker Silva was among the most feared players in the Premier League last season as City won all three domestic trophies.

The 25-year-old helped City supporters forget a long-term injury to Kevin De Bruyne, scoring 13 goals and adding 14 assists as his side re-wrote the English football record books.

The opening months of the new season have painted a very different picture for Silva and City, however, not least after he found himself embroiled in a racism controversy.

Silva has been charged with misconduct by the FA after posting a picture of team mate Benjamin Mendy next to a mascot for a Spanish snack brand which invited accusations that he was guilty of racial stereotyping.

The issue became even more complex when Guardiola and City star Raheem Sterling made impassioned verbal defences of the player, who could face a suspension when his case is heard by an independent regulatory commission.

And reports, citing sources close to Silva, have claimed that the articulate Portuguese, who is fluent in English, has been adversely affected by the controversy and accusations.

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Free Press Journal