This is our “prospecting the prospects” series, where we run the rule over lots of FPL prospects who will enter the game next season– our directory for these (over 20!) is here. This series analyses a selection of significant newcomers to the FPL game by simulating how they would have performed using last season’s stats (wherever they played) in FPL, then provide our evaluation of the player as an asset ahead of the new season.
At the end of May, it was announced that Man City had moved quickly in the transfer market and signed Ligue 1 winners Monaco’s midfield linchpin, Bernardo Silva, in a reported £43m deal.
On signing, the Portuguese playmaker had this to say:
“I’m very happy to be part of Manchester City’s team and I look forward to trying to do my best to help the team reach their goals.
Of course when you have the opportunity of being trained by Pep Guardiola, you don’t say no.”
Whether he’ll still be saying that having been deployed as the false number 2, or something hipster like that, remains to be seen but, in the meantime, the question needs to be asked: how much an impact will this fellow have as a City asset for FPL managers next season?
A near ever-present for Monaco as they beat out the (even more) opulently backed PSG to win Ligue, Guardiola must be hoping he can bring that knowhow to the City team to help deliver Pep his first title in England.
Prospecting the prospect (using last season’s data)
Appearances: 37 appearances (33x played over 60 mins, 4x subbed on/off) = 70 points ((33×2)+4)
Goals: 8 goals (5×8) = 40 points
Assists: 9 assists (3×9) = 27 points
Bonus: To give an estimation of the bonus points he would have got, we need to review the games that he was instrumental in, ie when his goals and assists arrived to come to a rough calculation of how well he did.
(Occasional random bonus points (bps) are sometimes awarded in FPL where a player has bossed it but not actually got on the score card. We’re not estimating these as we’re using pure data rather than contextual data (e.g. watching the games he played in) to make perform this analysis. Plus it’ll only be an extra one or two points either way, which won’t change the story.)
For goals: this is best looked at by breaking down his contribution to games – where he was undisputed difference in the game, we will assign 3bps; where he was involved in changing the result but didn’t win the match, it’s 2bps; where he was on the scoresheet but it wasn’t a telling contribution, we will give the metrics and make an approximation
- Match winning: Silva did not score any match winners last season.
- Result change: Silva scored the equaliser in the 2-2 draw with Guingamp on 12th August. He also scored a last minute equaliser against Monaco’s rivals for the title PSG in their 1-1 draw on 28th January. The next month, he equalised against Bastia on 18th February in their 1-1 draw. Let’s say he gets 2bps for the first two games, and 3bps for the Bastia game as WhoScored has him down as the man of the match for that one. A total of 7 bps.
- Contributions: Silva scored the 3rd goal in Monaco’s 7-0 demolition of FC Metz on 1st October – he also registered an assist on the 5th goal, scored by Guido Carillo (his 2nd on the night). He scored a brace on 14th January against Marseille – but these were the 3rd and 4th goals when the game was already won. He added the second against Nancy on 6th May in the 3-0 win, and did the same in the 4-0 win against Lille 8 days later on 14th May. For the brace, he’d have likely gotten 2bps as he also got a yellow card in the match. For the other games, it’s altogether less clear; let’s say he might have snuck an extra bp somewhere along the line. 3bps more.
Total guessimated bonus for goals: 10 points
For assists: Up until very late in the season, his assists were not decisive. We’ve already mentioned the assist in the 7-0 thrashing of Metz on 1st October. In a similar vein, he assisted one in the 6-2 victory over Montpellier on 21st October. In a pageant of impressive 4-0 results against Marseille (26th November), Bordeaux (10th December), Lorient (22nd January) and Nantes (5th March) he also recorded additional assists. All of these games would not have seen him move into the mix for bps in our estimation. However, later in the season things changed. He assisted the winner in the 2-1 victory over Bordeaux on 11th March, and Kylian Mbappe’s winner in the tight game against Lyon on 23rd April, and the same player putting Monaco 2-1 up (technically the “winning goal”) in their 3-1 win over Toulouse less than a week later 29th April. For those three games, we could infer that he’d some away with maybe 2bps from one, and 1bp from the other two – or some sort of combination like that. 4bps.
Total guesstimated bonus: 14 points.
Not conceding: 14 clean sheets (14×1) = 14points
Disciplinary: 3 yellow cards = –3 points / 0 red cards
Scores on the doors
162 points. That puts him around the top 20 if he was in FPL this year equal on points with Pedro. That also puts him just outside the top 10 for midfielders overall.
His points per game works out at 4.38ppg, but since the Premier League has the same amount of games as Ligue 1, and he played in 37 of those, it seems a futile exercise to gross up the tally for the sake of just one game… oh alright then, I will. That gives him an extra 4 points (166 overall), which takes him level with Jermain Defoe but doesn’t really move him ranking wise; it also takes him to just 1 point below Mesut Ozil in the midfielder category.
Evaluation and conclusion
A tough one to evaluate. We know Ligue 1 stars do not always import well to the Premier League – Silva’s former club mate Radamel Falcao is a salient example of that – but, equally, there can be some stars. Think Eden Hazard (joined Chelsea from Lille) or, flowering a little later, Riyad Mahrez (joined Leicester from Le Havre).
In the UK, we saw a lot more of Silva’s former side Monaco this season than we otherwise would have on TV, with their fantastic run to the semi finals of the Champions League. This showcased a bright, young team with Silva at its nerve centre (albeit slightly unorthodox in his right midfield position), directing the play.
A fantastic article by Julien Laurens in the Guardian glowingly profiled Silva, saying about him that:
“He sees things before everybody else: the space, the pass, the run. He always plays on the move. His movement off the ball is sensational. There cannot be a more intelligent player than him and that is why Pep Guardiola made Silva his first summer signing. Guardiola loves a smart player.”
Now, although that sounds fantastic, it set off a bit of an alarm bell in my head from the perspective of an FPL manager. At last count, Man City already possess two players with similar characteristics: his namesake David Silva (the king of assisting the assister) and the ginger creative force that is Kevin de Bruyne.
Let’s look at each to see help us evaluate how Bernardo Silva could deal with the transition to the Premier League.
First up, after signing from Valencia, after a strikingly similar “pre-Prem” season to his namesake Bernardo with 8 goals and 7 assists in 30 La Liga appearances in 2009/10, David Silva fell slightly below that benchmark in his maiden season in the Premier League, with 4 goals and 7 assists – a total of 144 points. This would have put him equal to Ross Barkley this time around in the top 20 midfielders and the top 30 overall. Given the price tag for Bernardo is likely to be fairly high, I think that that kind of output would be below par for us as FPL managers. Though David Silva did improve, averaging 168 a season between 2011/12 and 2014/15 before two injury ravaged seasons in recent years, it’s the first season in the Premier League that we should take as a yardstick. And it proves a bit cautionary if we are to compare the tale of two Silvas.
Let’s look now at Kevin de Bruyne. A score of 199 this year took him to the top 7 in the whole game (and in the top 4 for midfielders), with 6 goals and a massive 21 assists (though much of his haul was amassed at the end of the season with a flurry of 7 assists and 2 goals in the last 5 gameweeks). In his first season in the Premier League, despite a terrible injury sustained versus Roberto Martinez’s Everton in late January, his output was 10 goals and 8 assists. He appeared in just 25 games according to WhoScored, achieving 131 points in FPL. This translates into a 5.24ppg would have seen him return, if he’d played 38 games… 199 points! The same as he actually did this year! He’s nothing if not consistent, our Kev! (Though maybe he might’ve done better that season overall as he was scoring more than assisting it seems.)
So it looks like, between David Silva’s 144 in his first season and KdB’s projected 199, our score for his season last year (162) might be what we can expect of Bernardo Silva. The question this raises is: it that going to be enough?
Given the promise in terms of FPL output is somewhat limited compared to how good an actual football player he seems to be, the worry could be that he mimics his namesake David and inherits the throne of ‘assisting the assister’ king. His position on the right of midfield as an advanced playmaker on the wing is also of interest – will Sane on the opposite wing be the man who provides the width? On a related note, though they are different players, the below par 115pt output of Paul Pogba for United could well be another example worth considering – an instance of a great footballer not (yet) translating into a great FPL asset. There’s a lot of risk involved, then, and, at the pricetag we are projecting, we feel like that risk will not be taken up by the majority of FPL managers, unless he really starts firing from the day one.
With this in mind, plus the plethora of options in City’s midfield (how will Pep fit him, David Silva, KdB, Sane, Sterling, Kun and Jesus all in one side, with presumably a defensive minded midfielder such as Fernandinho, the returning Gundogan and also Yaya hanging around?) begging the question of rotation throughout the year, we have to worry about Bernardo Silva’s prospects as a figure in our FPL teams.
The signs are that he could well be a brilliant addition to the Premier League as a footballer but, as an FPL asset, it’s definitely more of a mixed bag and, for the price tag he’ll likely to be lumbered with, this counts against him in our rating. The feeling I get after doing this analysis is that he might well be one of those players that you will be able to happily ignore for the majority of the season without losing out: personally, I won’t be looking at him straight away, and will only start to consider him if a bandwagon begins to form later on in the year which, to me, says it all.
Overall rating: 2 / 5 – A poor prospect for FPL
*derived from a completely subjective scale from 1-5, where 1 is bad and 5 is excellent
Caveat: we thoroughly accept this system of evaluating players isn’t flawless. However, we feel that it’s a nice approach to getting a feel for how a player might do.