Bernardo Silva: Five things about 'little Messi,' set to join Manchester City

This article has been edited since it was first published on Jan. 19, 2017

He may have missed out on national team glory at Euro 2016 and he may have played only a handful of minutes of top-level football in Portugal, but nobody in his homeland is oblivious to the extraordinary talent that is Bernardo Silva.

Many believe he can match the career of a similarly supremely gifted attacking midfielder who started at Benfica, Rui Costa. He is set to showcase in the Premier League next season as Manchester City look to have beaten a host of top clubs -- including Manchester United and Barcelona -- for his signature in a £65 million deal.

Here are five things you should know about him.

1. Benfica discarded 'little Messi'

Nicknamed "Messizinho" (little Messi) when coming through Benfica's famed Seixal youth academy, Silva was identified from a young age as a footballer of immense talent. He was voted Breakthrough Star of 2013-14 after an exceptional season for Benfica B in the Portuguese second division.

Manager Jorge Jesus achieved great things at Benfica, but to this day the club's fans remain critical about his lack of faith in homegrown talents, with Silva inevitably cited as the best example. He played just 31 minutes over three matches for Benfica's first team. The player himself recently admitted that under Jesus he had no hope of cracking Benfica's senior side, saying: "When they put me training at left-back at Benfica I realised I had no future at the club."

2. He made an immediate impact in France

Benfica ended up earning €15m from Silva's transfer to Monaco. At first it seemed like a handy price for a player with practically no top-flight football experience, but it took only a season to realise that it was the French club who had got the better end of the deal.

Still only 20 years old at the time, Silva settled immediately, playing 45 matches, scoring 10 goals and generally dazzling onlookers with his intricate skills and vision, not to mention a generous work rate.

3. His playing style makes him a formidable attacker

Bernardo Silva oozes class with every touch of the ball. His outstanding technique and tight control, even in the most congested of spaces, enables him to constantly make intelligent use of the ball.

He can play wide on either flank but is usually deployed on the right, while many still believe his innate creativity and quick thinking are the perfect attributes to make him a classic No. 10. Either way, he is a formidable attacking weapon (seven goals and six assists so far this season) especially for teams who seek to dominate possession.

4. His intelligence stands out

Silva exudes intelligence on the pitch, and his thoughtful and well-worded responses to journalists reveal an engaging, interested and interesting personality off it. Although never hiding his love of Benfica, he has talked about what he gained from making the move early in his career to Monaco, recognising that the fact he had to adapt to a new country, new language and new culture at such an early age only helped him develop as a person.

It's reasonable to suppose he will settle quickly in England, especially considering his more-than-passable English skills, despite never having lived there.

5. His international career has yet to take off

Given Silva's consistently outstanding performances over three seasons at Monaco, including in their run to the semifinals of the Champions League, the one disappointment of a promising start to life as a professional footballer may be the fact his Portugal career is yet to take off.

Silva was superb at the Under-21 European Championship in 2015, with many feeling he was more deserving of the Player of the Tournament award than his teammate William Carvalho as Portugal finished runners-up.

He forced his way into the senior Portugal side during Euro 2016 qualifying, but an injury just before coach Fernando Santos announced the squad for France meant he missed out on Portugal's finest hour.

He has since struggled to crack the starting XI. The fierce competition for places caused by Portugal's overflowing talent pool, in addition to the Selecao's style of playing more counter-attacking rather than possession football, have been two obstacles preventing him from establishing himself in the national team as of yet.