Manchester City commission statue of David Silva at the Etihad Stadium

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak lauds veteran, former teammate Micah Richards says Spaniard is City’s best ever player

It was six minutes to end 10 years, a cameo that served as a coda to a career. The dream departure for David Silva would have been after lifting the Champions League trophy in Lisbon on Sunday.

Instead, his Manchester City playing days finished more ignominiously. A brief outing as a substitute in Saturday's defeat to Lyon took the Spaniard to 436 appearances, joint 10th in City's history with Willie Donachie.

In another sense, Silva may top the list. “I think he is City’s best ever player that I have seen,” said his former team-mate Micah Richards. “I would say along with Yaya Toure but I think Silva was more consistent than Yaya so I would give it to Silva.”

Toure was the match-winner par excellence, the man responsible for many a major moment in City’s rise. Silva has been more understated, but his impact has extended for longer.

Richards admitted his reference points do not stretch back to City’s golden era half a century ago and, for supporters of a certain vintage, the decision comes down to different generations of high-class midfielders.

“I know older fans would say Colin Bell but he is not my era and I don’t want to be disrespectful to him and I have not seen as many videos as I should have,” Richards added.

Silva can be proof greatness comes in small packages. His arrival from Valencia in 2010 prompted questions if he was physical enough to survive in English football. It is an understatement to say he did. “What makes him so much better is how humble he is,” Richards added. “You look at the size of him and he is 5ft 7in max and you look at him and think: ‘How do you do what you do on the pitch?’”

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“He is playing against players [who are] 6ft 1in, 6ft 2in, twice the size, twice the strength and he just skips round them. He is a magician.”

City are recognising Silva’s achievements. A statue has been commissioned to stand at the Etihad Stadium, along with a sculpture of former captain Vincent Kompany, and both will be unveiled next year.

A training pitch with a mosaic immortalising Silva’s contribution to 2011’s 6-1 win over Manchester United will be at the Etihad Campus, where pitches have already been dedicated to Joe Hart and Toure.

“As with Vincent before him, David’s statue will act as a lasting reminder of the wonderful moments that he gave us, not only as an incredible footballer, but as an inspiring ambassador,” said chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.

“He has put a stamp on the team, on this club, its history and the Premier League as a whole. He has been instrumental to the beautiful football philosophy you see today. David is a transformational player.”

That transformation is reflected not just by his 77 goals in 436 games or a tally of 93 Premier League assists that puts him sixth in the division’s all-time chart.

He joined a club who had not won major silverware since 1976. With four league titles, two FA Cups and five League Cups, he became the most decorated player in their history.

It was only in his final few months that Pep Guardiola began to phase him out and Silva did not start any of City’s three knockout Champions League games.

If his legs started to wane, the principles of Silva’s passing game remained the same and Richards added: “It is absolutely incredible that he is that consistent over that many years and I don’t think there has been a better player in City history than David Silva.”

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