The Revival of André Silva
Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski are two names you just can’t go minutes without seeing or hearing about when it comes to conversations about the Bundesliga and Europe’s most productive strikers, however one player who is able to hold a candle to that pair in the Bundesliga this season is André Silva. The Portuguese striker has had an erratic career so far with an average spell at Sevilla sandwiched between a standout breakout season at Porto and a deeply disappointing big move to A.C Milan. Under Adi Hütter at Frankfurt, Silva seems to have fully restored his confidence and has exploded into life in the past year, now being eyed up by some of Europe’s elite sides, allegedly attracting interest from Manchester United and Barcelona as of late.
André Silva’s career up until now
Silva has always been recognised as a big talent and was one of Europe’s most highly rated young players for much of his time at Porto. Silva joined the prestigious youth setup at Porto from the age of 15 and represented Portugal’s national team across all the youth teams from under-16 level through to the under-21’s tallying up a commendable 44 goals in 70 games. During this period Silva was playing domestically for Porto’s B team where he had also notched 24 goals and 5 assists in the Portuguese second division. Having been prolific at youth level Silva was promoted to Porto’s first team as a 20 year-old scoring 3 goals in 14 appearances, following 14 goals in 29 matches so far for Porto B in that same season. The 2016/17 season was where André Silva announced himself to the world with 21 goals from 44 games in all competitions including 4 goals and 2 assists from just 8 appearances in the Champions League (this featured a brace in a 5-0 group stage demolition of Leicester City).
Following his goal-scoring exploits in his first full season with Fc Porto, A.C Milan were convinced enough to splash out on André Silva for over 30 million euros and handed him a 5 year contract, looking for him to become the prolific number 9 they had long been craving and as an additional player to lead the line and take over from Carlos Bacca, the teams only other real goal scorer. With Milan still firmly in a state of transition as a club the move was a resounding failure. Milan finished 6th with champions league football eluding them again and underwent a change of ownership from Berlusconi to Li Yonghong. Under these ominous circumstances Silva could only muster just the two goals in 24 Serie A games, although he did show some promise bagging 8 times in 14 appearances in the Europa League. Due to his underwhelming debut season in Milan, Silva was loaned to Sevilla for the 2018/19 season with an option to buy. Silva started life in Seville off with a bang scoring a debut hattrick against Rayo Vallecano and also bagging a brace in a big 3-0 home win against Real Madrid 5 games later. Silva finished the season with 11 goals and 3 assists in all competitions, however across the 40 games he played his form was patchy, only scoring in 8 different games and then a knee injury cut his season short in late March, he only played once in April and didn’t feature at all in May as a result. After this fairly ill-fated spell in Spain, Silva was loaned out by his parent club again, this time on a 2 year loan to fellow Europa League competitors-Eintracht Frankfurt.
Last season Silva started well with 3 goals in his first 4 Bundesliga outings but then history looked to be repeating itself with Injury issues and declining form losing Silva a place in the team. Following the pandemic, football was postponed until May where Germany became one of the first countries to resume their top division. This time off to reflect and train and perhaps the lack of pressure from fans seemed to work wonders for Silva, a player whose confidence must have fluctuated massively in the past couple of seasons. Having scored 4 and assisting 3 in his first 15 Bundesliga appearances, Silva caught the eye by scoring 8 in the final 10 games after the restart. Silva ended the campaign with a respectable 21 goal contributions in 38 appearances. So far this season Silva has been on fire with 22 goals and 7 assists from just 26 appearances, earning him a permanent 3 year contract at Frankfurt. He currently has the second most goals in the Bundesliga, 1 ahead of young prodigy Haaland and only bettered by the freakishly good Lewandowski who is in serious contention to deservedly win a first Ballon D’or. Silva has already bettered his best ever goal tally in a season and still has 8 games to play, and with the motivation of trying to get his club side into the Champions League for the first time in over 50 years, and being part of a Portugal squad aiming to defend their European Championship title this summer, Silva looks as hot a prospect as ever and, at 25 is showing no signs of slowing down as edges closer to the peak years of his career.
Silva’s play style
In terms of playing style Silva very much falls into the poacher category of strikers. He is an expert at finishing in and around the penalty spot. Due to his style It would be easy to be fooled into thinking that Silva only scores scrappy ‘easy’ finishes, however he is an excellent header of the ball and although many of his goals come from close range, some of his goals are still difficult chances that only a cultured and well composed finisher could put away. Silva has taken 69 shots from inside the penalty area this season, in his best goal scoring season for Inter, Mauro Icardi took 72 shots in the penalty area scoring 23 times and scored 6 from 14 shots in the 6 yard box. From a combined 78 shots taken in the six yard box and penalty area Silva has 21 goals, 15 from open play. Silva’s form this season is very comparable to Icardi’s best season at inter. Silva has a conversion rate (from shots in the box) of around 21%, the same as Gabriel Jesus who has started many games for arguably the best team in the world (form wise) this season. Silva also has range scoring 5 with his head and 3 on his weaker left side. Furthermore, he has 7 assists in all competitions this season suggesting he is able on the ball and contributes well to his sides build up play, Silva has more assists than more mobile forwards Benzema and Griezmann have managed so far in la Liga this season. Silva is a typical poacher however he isn’t a one trick pony as he has demonstrated some range to his finishing in addition to good hold up play at times.
Where next for André Silva?
Should Frankfurt be successful in ensuring champions league qualification, Silva may well wish to stay put for another year in comfortable surroundings and with a chance for him to score again in the UCL- Europe’s biggest stage. Should Silva wish to depart there are various destinations that may be desirable for him and the clubs in question. Earlier in the article interest from Barcelona and Manchester United was touched upon. These moves would make sense with Manchester United needing a more traditional poacher with Edinson Cavani presumably serving as short term fix in that position. Barcelona completely lack a recognised striker except Martin Braithwaite who is also not going to be an adequate long term solution in that area for the Catalans. Other possible top sides in need of a striker of Silva’s pedigree and play style are perhaps Atletico Madrid who also may not want to over rely on an aging Suarez who is the sides only real out and out striker, Chelsea ( as a potential Giroud replacement or starter if the club cut their losses with starting Timo Werner) or even PSG, if Moise Kean isn’t brought in permanently and because Silva is younger and looking like he will improve while Icardi’s career has often been marred with disciplinary issues and he seemed to have peaked in his years with Inter. A less exciting move could even be for Silva to join a rival and serve as a solid deputy to Lewandowski at Bayern or as a replacement for Haaland at Dortmund.
André Silva has gone from a forgotten man to one of Portugal’s most lethal strikers on form. In fact, in his last match he nodded in a late winner against Dortmund, a crucial goal in keeping Frankfurt’s’ Champions league dream alive. He has been tearing it up in Germany this season and at 25 years old he looks to be edging closer to becoming the tenacious striker everyone admired in his early days at Porto.
Written by- Joe Langlands
LinkedIn- Joe Langlands