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Why Bernardo Silva turned down lucrative Saudi Pro League offer

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Bernardo Silva Manchester City
Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva was close to join the Saudi Pro League in the summer. | PHOTO: Sky |
  • Bernardo Silva was close to leaving Manchester City for the Saudi Pro League in the summer
  • Barcelona, PSG, and Saudi Pro League side Al Hilal were all interested in Portugal star
  • The midfielder eventually stayed at City signing a new contract valid until 2026

Manchester City star Bernardo Silva recently disclosed that he entertained an offer from the Saudi Pro League during the summer transfer window but ultimately decided to stay with the Premier League club. Silva, a Portuguese midfielder, has been a pivotal figure for City over the past six years, and his commitment to the team remained steadfast even during periods of speculation about his departure.

City faced significant interest from longstanding suitors Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, along with attention from Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia, during the summer. Despite the latter not being a top priority, Silva was open to exploring options with European giants. In August, he reiterated his desire to leave City, a sentiment he had expressed in 2022 as well. However, the club requested him to stay for an additional year, with the understanding that a potential departure might be considered in 2023 if an £80 million valuation was met.

The situation took a turn when Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez left the club, prompting City to reconsider Silva’s potential departure, even with renewed interest from Barcelona. The European champions presented a plan to elevate Silva’s status at the Etihad Stadium, aiming to make him one of the highest-paid players alongside Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland. This effort succeeded, leading to Silva signing a contract extension until 2026, aligning with the player’s desire to continue playing at the highest level.

RELATED: Bernardo Silva extends Manchester City contract till 2026

City fans celebrated Silva’s decision to stay, as it would have been unexpected to see the versatile midfielder in Saudi Arabia this season. Despite the financial allure of the Saudi Pro League, particularly for players over 30, Silva admitted that he did consider the offer.

Bernardo Silva - Manchester City

Bernardo Silva turned down a lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia Pro League side Al Hilal and signed a new contract at City valid until 2026. | PHOTO: Sky |

“I would lie if I said I didn’t think [about Saudi Arabia],” Silva conceded in a comprehensive interview with RTP. However, his passion for European competition, particularly the UEFA Champions League, played a crucial role in his decision. Recounting the exhilarating moments, such as defeating Real Madrid and Inter to win the Champions League last season, Silva emphasized the emotional significance of playing at the highest level.

“What interested me was the heat of playing a UEFA Champions League semi-final, listening to the [Etihad] stadium going wild after scoring against Madrid in the semi-finals or when we won the final against Inter. I didn’t want to give up on that,” Silva explained, underscoring the deep connection he feels with the pinnacle of European football.

READ: Why Barcelona might not sign Bernardo Silva

While Silva has committed his immediate future to Manchester City, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to Benfica, where he spent 11 years in the academy before joining Monaco. Expressing his desire to rejoin Benfica, Silva stated, “If at the time the club wants me, obviously things will happen,” hinting at a potential homecoming to the club where his footballing journey began.

In conclusion, Bernardo Silva’s decision to reject the allure of the Saudi Pro League and commit to Manchester City reflects his deep-rooted passion for European football, especially the prestigious UEFA Champions League. The emotional connection he feels with the competition, coupled with City’s ambitious plans for him, swayed his decision to stay in the Premier League. While the Saudi offer was considered, Silva’s focus remains on achieving more memorable moments at the highest echelons of European football. Additionally, his openness to a potential return to Benfica adds an intriguing layer to his future aspirations, showcasing his attachment to the club where his footballing journey commenced.

This episode in Silva’s career underscores the intricate decisions and considerations top-tier players navigate, balancing financial opportunities with their passion for the game and their desire to compete at the highest levels. As Silva looks ahead to the coming seasons, City fans can anticipate more standout performances and a continued contribution from the Portuguese maestro in their pursuit of footballing glory.

Nathan Sialah is a journalist by profession with interest in politics, sports, cryptocurrency and human interests with 5 years experience in Radio and Digital Journalism. This has helped Sialah develop a responsible approach to any task he undertakes or any situation that he is presented with.

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