A decade ago, England witnessed an invasion of a different sort. It was 2010, as another decade rolled in, the intensely physical Premier League braced itself for an Iberian influence. David Silva arrived into English shores and busted the tunnel wide open for other little men to follow. Sure these diminutive men could dazzle, but they could destroy too. With the tiki-taka movement acting as a catalyst, they revolutionised English football. But the monster that the Premier League is, it evolved as a form of refutation and adopted counter-pressing systems. A decade on, football is now played at a heavy metal pace unsuitable for the diminutive men who arrived from Spain a decade earlier. Time and change has cast out many of these Spanish midfielders, but two amigos from Mestalla remain - 'First marauder’ David Silva and his apprentice Juan Mata.
Fondly called ‘Merlin’, David Silva has been Manchester City’s most reliable player throughout the decade. For 5 long months in the midst of a gruesome schedule, Silva was shuttling between training in Manchester and his premature son in Valencia. Through a decade of immense tactical changes, through 3 different managers and through all his personal struggles, he remains the best friend the ball has ever had in the Premier League. In Silva Manchester City have an artist who can conduct Pep Guardiola's orchestra.
"I think, when I play football, I forget everything. It’s good for me to play. I know in my private life it is not a very happy moment. But my son is fighting, you know, and I am very happy because he is getting stronger, getting better, so it is OK.”
Also read: David Silva | The Muggle Magician
Juan Mata is probably one of the few who are as technically adept as Silva, while he has had a wonderful career, one just wonders how different his journey could have been with a little luck. ‘The Wizard’ was Chelsea’s player of the year twice in his first two years and he was seen as the saviour who could drag Manchester United out of their misery. The promise that accompanied his arrival into Carrington by a helicopter soon faded into the mess that Manchester United were. Now he is at best a peripheral figure who remains popular. As his performance against Norwich proved, it certainly is not flair that separates Mata from Silva. Perhaps it is the slow legs that fail the quick brain, perhaps it is the ill-fate of having Jose Mourinho as boss (twice) instead of Guardiola. Yet, while one walks away from Manchester next year as a club legend having won 4 PL titles, the other would remain on an unsteady ship in turbulent waters.