Pep Guardiola insists Bernardo Silva is happy at Manchester City but has hinted the midfielder could choose to leave the club in the future.
The Portuguese international, who has four years remaining on his City contract, was linked with a departure from the Etihad Stadium during the last transfer window, amid suggestions that the £100m arrival of Jack Grealish could see his first-team opportunities limited this season.
Silva though has started five of City’s six Premier League games so far this term. The 27-year-old scored the winner in the 1-0 victory away at Leicester earlier in September and he impressed alongside Rodri in a deeper-lying central midfield role in Saturday’s win over fellow title favourites Chelsea.
Guardiola, who in August confirmed the club was open to the prospect of allowing Silva to leave, said: “All I want is for Bernardo to be happy, here or anywhere. All I want is his happiness because he’s a guy that deserves the best.
“He’s so intuitive – it’s not his role as a holding midfielder but he knows exactly how to play it and how to anticipate what is going to happen, with the ball or without the ball.
“Against Norwich he played exceptional, against Arsenal he played exceptional, Southampton played at the level of the team – that was not good.
“But how well he played against Chelsea is no surprise. How many times have we seen it? He was an incredible signing for us because he’s an exceptional person.”
Silva played an integral part in Guardiola’s side’s Premier League title triumph last season, the midfielder’s third English top-flight crown, as well as their run to the 2020/21 Champions League final.
The playmaker has also lifted the League Cup four times and the FA Cup once during his time at City, for whom he has scored 36 times and made 44 assists in 208 appearances since he signed from AS Monaco in 2017.
Guardiola added: “I never forget the second Premier League we won, with 98 points, he was the best player in England. He was nominated [for an award] but he was the best.
“After that season, later he dropped a little bit, he was not in the position he prefers but now he’s back and hopefully he can help us.
“If, at the end, he wants to leave and decides [to go] the only thing I can say is that the guy or the club that gets Bernardo is going to take one of the best players in the world.
“Is he happier? You cannot play in this way if you are not happy, it’s impossible.”
Following their triumph against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea, City meet Paris Saint-Germain in Champions League Group A action at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday before a top-of-the-table-clash with Liverpool on October 3.