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The View From Portugal: Bernardo Silva

After Bernardo Silva's impressive display for Portugal against Russia, Club journalist Rob Pollard spoke to Portuguese football expert Tom Kundert to get more information on the incoming Manchester City midfielder.

Hello Tom, thanks for coming on and talking to us. Firstly, what did you make of Silva's display against Russia? He looked superb to me, particularly in the first half. 

I agree. Everyone in Portugal has been calling for Fernando Santos, the Portugal manager, to start Bernardo after he didn't even get off the bench in the previous two matches, and his outstanding performance yesterday will make it hard for Santos to leave him out again.

From start to finish he was exceptional and one of the biggest reasons Portugal put in such a strong display. They only won 1-0 but a two or three goal winning margin would have been a more accurate reflection of the game.

He's such an intelligent footballer, as was shown particularly in the first half, often cutting inside and opening up the pitch with clever passes (he started the move which led to the goal by doing this, spreading a wonderful cross-field pass from one flank to the other), and almost never losing the ball. His decision-making is spot on every time. 

He looks to have exceptional technique, but also a fantastic work rate. 

Again I couldn't agree more. I think that's what marks him out as such a special player.

It is unusual to see superb skill and vision combined with such a generous work rate in the same player. And despite his small and slight build, he is not afraid to put his foot in and his excellent timing and quick feet often see him rob the ball from more physical players.

I was particularly struck by the way he continued to work hard to retain possession in the closing minutes as Russia put Portugal under pressure. He was obviously exhausted but his sumptuous control and technique still allowed him to keep the ball and draw fouls. 

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Portugal have a long tradition of producing high-quality, diminutive No. 10s. How does he compare to the likes of Deco, Rui Costa and so on? 

It's an interesting question because many see him as a natural heir to those two players which is quite a complement - they are two of Portugal's all-time greats. However, throughout most of his career and for Monaco he has been used wide on the right, which was exactly where he was positioned yesterday, and he has thrived in that role.

But as he matures and provided he develops into the world-class player we all believe he can be (perhaps he already is), it is tempting to move him into a more central role to make sure he is always involved. He has the attributes to play there for sure.  

As you said, he didn't start Portugal's opening game in the Confederations Cup. Do you think he will start the next one?

I'd be very surprised if Santos did not start him in his next game. The only reason would be because of the short break between the two matches (only two days' break) and Santos may want to keep him fresh for the semi-final, and New Zealand should be beatable even without Portugal's strongest XI.

Nobody understands why Bernardo wasn't picked for Portugal's previous two matches, despite the fact the national side is blessed with numerous high-quality options for midfield. 

How good can he be as he develops and matures? 

Many people here say Bernardo Silva is the biggest talent to emerge in Portugal since Cristiano Ronaldo. I agree. He has the attributes to become one of the best midfielders in the world. 

Tom Kundert is a Portuguese football journalist and author, creator of www.portugoal.net and the Portugal correspondent of World Soccer Magazine. Twitter: PortuGOAL1

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