Pep Guardiola has underlined the importance of David Silva to his powerful Manchester City team.
City are 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League and still alive in three cup competitions.
With few weaknesses in the side, a number of players have made outstanding contributions but a remarkable statistic concerning Silva came to light this week.
City have won their last 24 games in which the Spanish playmaker has featured.
Guardiola said: “That’s why he’s playing every time! It’s a good record, normally when David plays you know you are a good team. He’s a special guy.
“David is so important but we try to make all the players feel they are so important. But he knows, alone, he cannot do it. So we try to make a good team, a good team spirit with everyone involved, knowing with and without the ball what we have to do.
“But, we cannot deny, David has had seven or eight years here – that’s a lot of games, a lot of experience. He has a huge personality to play, especially in the bad moments.
“The difference in the top players is, in the difficult games, they make a step forward and David is one of them.”
Silva missed four games in December after the premature birth of his son and may need to miss more. The club are prepared to give the 32-year-old as much time as he needs.
Guardiola said: “When he is able to play, he plays. When it is not possible, because of his son, we rest him. The most important thing is his son in that moment, and his wife and family.”
City reached the final of the Carabao Cup this week and are understood to be in discussions to sign Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte. Signing the 23-year-old, who has a buy-out clause of £60million, before Wednesday’s transfer deadline would see the club break their transfer record.
Aside from this, however, the club have also been involved in some other important business with Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne all signing new contracts in the past fortnight. Silva also penned an extension last month.
“That’s the real news, not the transfers,” said Guardiola. “Nico, Fernandinho, David, Kevin – they’ll stay longer and play for us.
“They are important players for us and all of them deserve to extend their contracts. We are so happy they can stay longer with us.”
City’s quadruple challenge continues on Sunday as they travel to face Championship side Cardiff in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Reports surfaced on Thursday evening that the Chile forward had fallen foul of the Football Association’s ‘whereabouts’ rule by allegedly not being present for a routine doping test on Monday.
Sanchez was putting the final touches on his move to United, which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan join Arsenal in an exchange deal, and an initial report from Spain highlighted the error.
Sanchez was still registered an Arsenal player when the apparent infraction occurred and Wenger conceded the club must take responsibility for the issue.
“It is just a bad day for him to be tested,” he said.
“Honestly, on the administration side it would still be our responsibility because he had not moved.
“The intention of Alexis was not to hide – and we have nothing to hide.
“On Monday there was a lot going on, it is a special day for Alexis Sanchez – you have do paperwork and travel.”
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at Mourinho’s United reign.
Mourinho became the first United manager ever to mark his debut season at Old Trafford with a major trophy, claiming last season’s League Cup with victory over Southampton at Wembley.
United went on to add the Europa League with victory over Ajax, clinching Champions League qualification and making it a trophy hat-trick after having won the Community Shield at the start of the season.
Mourinho enjoys a 61.62 per cent win rate in all competitions since joining United, a total which compares favourably to Sir Alex Ferguson (59.67 per cent) and indeed tops all United managers.
United could only manage a sixth-placed finish in last season’s Premier League after 15 draws from their 38 games left them 24 points behind champions Chelsea. They have improved to second this time but still trail leaders Manchester City by 12 points.
His Premier League record since the start of last season reads 34 wins, 20 draws and just eight defeats, with 103 goals scored and 45 conceded for a goal difference of +58.
That League Cup triumph helped him build a 7-2 win-loss record in that competition with United, with four wins and one loss in the FA Cup.
The Europa League success contained 10 wins, three draws and two losses, with five wins and one defeat in this season’s Champions League group stage, while United won last season’s Community Shield against Leicester but lost to Real Madrid in this season’s UEFA Super Cup.
That leaves his overall record at 61 wins, 23 draws and 15 defeats as he prepares to bring up a century of games with United when they face Yeovil on Friday in the FA Cup.
Mourinho has spent reported fees of nearly £300m in the three transfer windows prior to this one since taking over at Old Trafford.
The £89million return of former United academy graduate Paul Pogba and the £75m signing of Romelu Lukaku headline his spending, though Alexis Sanchez arrived from Arsenal this month in a straight swap for Henrikh Mkhitaryan with no fee involved.
Mourinho has recouped around £57m, selling Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay for over £20m apiece, leaving his net spend at around £234m.