At some point in all of that hullabaloo, City seemed to make a decision: For the club to become a consistent, established force, it needed to be a little less Tevez, and a lot more Silva. Anyone deemed a troublemaker was jettisoned, and serious, studious quiet became the order of the day, as later typified by the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Aymeric Laporte and Bernardo Silva. It is hard to think of a manager less like the tempestuous Mancini than his artfully monotone successor, Manuel Pellegrini.
The benefits of that policy do not need explanation: three more Premier League titles, in 2014, 2018 and 2019, the arrival of Pep Guardiola and a slew of records and a haul of trophies.
But, in Silva’s goodbye, there was evidence to suggest that the changes had benefited him in the long run, too. He has long been aware that profile can be as important as talent; he once remarked that one of the reasons he had not made quite so many appearances for Spain as he might have liked was that he played for Manchester City, rather than Barcelona or Real Madrid.
And it is reasonable to assume he has been encouraged, at various times in his career, to put himself out there a little more, to take on more commercial work, to be a little more available to the news media. That would have been the first step to maximizing his earnings; and, besides, the occasional advertisement for a Japanese face fitness firm (no, really) or Egyptian energy concern never did Cristiano Ronaldo any harm.
That one engagement for the Canary Islands aside, Silva has done almost none of it. He has always stayed quiet. Of the four players on whom City’s modern success is built, it feels as if we know the least about Silva. Vincent Kompany had a large, and well-deserved, public profile. Sergio Agüero does considerable commercial work.
Yaya Touré, one of the pillars of those pre-Guardiola City teams, is the best example, though, and the cautionary tale. All that Touré did for the club is overshadowed in the public imagination by the frequent squabbles over his contract (led by his agent, rather than the player). Somehow, one of the most important players in the club’s history is remembered, mainly, for a silly spat over a birthday cake.