'Merlin' Silva could lend his magic to Spain

Fresh from an English Premier League title with Manchester City, David Silva is one of the "little men" in the Spanish team whose pace and versatility could create headaches for its Euro 2012 opponents.

Updated: June 05, 2012 12:33 IST
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Madrid: Fresh from an English Premier League title with Manchester City, David Silva is one of the "little men" in the Spanish team whose pace and versatility could create headaches for its Euro 2012 opponents.

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The 26-year-old will have to compete with a tough midfield and the likes of Fernando Llorente and Fernando Torres in attack for a starting place.

But coach Vicente del Bosque will have plenty of opportunities to use the player, with his ability to play both on the left wing and as a forward.

Silva, who scored the only goal in the 1-0 friendly victory over China on Sunday, also comes to the European championship fresh from Manchester City's first League title in 44 years, which has no doubt left him hungry for more trophies.

A key member of the Spanish team that conquered Euro 2008, the young man from Arguineguin, Gran Canaria, only made two appearances at the World Cup two years ago, including in La Roja's first match, which saw the future world champions lose to Switzerland.

But at club level, "Merlin" -- as teammates have nicknamed him -- has gone from one victory to the next since joining City from Valencia in 2010 for a transfer fee of around £25 million (31 million euros, $38.4 million).

In his first season, he helped the club to FA Cup glory and to a first ever Champions League qualification.

A top contender for the Professional Footballers' Association's Player of the Year award, he was held back by a long-standing ankle problem this season but Manchester City still went on to win the title and Silva, already a fan favourite, was voted best player of the year by his teammates.

Observers have praised the former Valencia player's creative influence.

"I try to help out and do my bit for the team, and I always like to see a lot of the ball, so it's great if I can help out by dictating the game and creating chances," the Spaniard said in a 2010 interview.

Recent media reports have already linked him to a move to Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid side.

Internationally, the soft-spoken Silva, who is still struggling with his English, has not always been in the starting line-up for the Spanish team but he has taken it in his stride.

"I don't ask when I play and I don't ask when I don't play. I'm happy to join the national team," he told Spain's El Pais newspaper last year.

"It's a reward and I always hope to play, but there is a lot of competition and I understand if the coach prefers someone else."

"I'm happy because I have the feeling that when I've had the opportunity to play, I've contributed something."

This has included 15 goals for the national side since Silva was first called up in November 2006, including one against Russia in the Euro 2008 semi-final in Vienna and two in a Euro qualifying match against Scotland in October.

Recruited by Valencia at the age of 14, he did spells on loan before integrating the senior side, and he was already part of the Spanish team that won the under-19 European championship in 2004.

Del Bosque recently compared him to Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

"He might barely measure 1.50 metres but he has talent to die for," Spanish teammate Pepe Reina joked in 2010 about Silva, who at 1.70 metres (five foot seven), belongs to the "little guys" in the Spanish team, alongside midfielder Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez and striker Pedro.

"For me, he is now one of the best players in the world, on a level with (fellow Spanish players) Xavi and Iniesta," Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini also raved to Britain's The Observer.

Playing in England has hardened the little Spaniard... but in a good way.

"He is still like a magician with the ball but now you can't knock him off it so easily."

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