Bernardo Silva witnessed first hand the rise of Kylian Mbappe at Monaco.
Together, the pair won France’s Ligue 1 title and reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2017 before moves to Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, respectively, followed.
Having led his country to World Cup glory in the summer, Frenchman Mbappe is now a strong contender for this year’s coveted Ballon d’Or award.
But City midfielder Bernardo believes he is now playing with two talented young players who could rival Mbappe, 20 next month, for such individual honours in the future.
Raheem Sterling, 23, and 22-year-old Leroy Sane are the wing wonders who are playing a key role in Manchester City’s bid to retain their Premier League title and increasing their reputation with every dazzling display.
Bernardo told Sport360: “Kylian was a fantastic player for us at Monaco and now he’s doing very well for PSG, obviously for France as well and he won the World Cup with them.
“But here at Manchester City we have two outstanding players, Raheem and Leroy, and both among the best players in the league. It’s amazing for us to have them with us.
“They score, they always work a lot for the team to create something. Since I’ve arrived, they have been key players for the team and I just hope they can keep going this way.
“I think they have the talent to win the big prizes, too. The three of them are young, Raheem, 23, Leroy is 22 and Kylian is 19, so yes, very young players and they can still improve a lot.”
For Bernardo, the trio are similarly driven in their desire to succeed.
Sterling – who inked a lucrative contract extension on Friday until 2023 – and Sane are flourishing under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola at City and, crucially, adding goals to their game as they showed with three between them in last weekend’s 6-1 league win over Southampton.
Sterling claimed another in the 6-0 Champions League rout of Shakhtar Donetsk too, taking his tally to 30 goals and 24 assists in 60 games since the start of last season.
Bernardo admits scoring is what has made Mbappe stand out, with the teenager notching 13 in 11 games so far this season.
“When you are 18 or 19, you usually just want to enjoy the football, to dribble, but Kylian doesn’t have that mentality,” said the Portugal international.
“He has that mentality to score goals which is not normal for his age and I think that’s what makes him a fantastic player. Not only does he want to be on the ball and have fun, but he wants to score goals and always knows which direction he wants to go.
“That’s what makes him special. He has that drive and ambition.
“But Raheem and Leroy have that too. I think they are better than they were last season and that’s what they need to do.
“They keep improving in all areas [like scoring goals] and I hope they keep going this way.”
City will hope that fine form continues on Sunday when they host neighbours Manchester United at Etihad Stadium.
Last April’s meeting saw Jose Mourinho’s men claim a dramatic 3-2 win as Paul Pogba inspired a comeback from two-goals down.
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The result meant City had to wait to win the title.
“It hurt a little bit because we wanted to win that game and the Premier League title against them on that day,” added Bernardo, who won a championship and League Cup in his debut campaign with City.
“But it’s forgotten, it’s in the past. Now we just want to win on Sunday and get three more points which is the important thing.
“I played two derbies last season, won one, lost one and it’s a special game, especially for the fans because it means so much for them. They feel it a lot and love this kind of game.
“I just hope, here at home, we can give our fans the win. Last year we were unable to do that, but this season I hope we can.”
Bernardo and City, though, are looking beyond victory over United and eyeing another title triumph after their record-breaking feat of 100 points and 106 goals last season.
Another target for the 24-year-old is surpassing the achievements of compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo, who won three Premier League titles during his six years at United.
“When we went to the World Cup with the national team, he congratulated me then [on winning the title with City],” said Bernardo.
“I just hope I can keep winning titles and titles. I think this team has the ambition and quality to do it and hopefully we will work very hard to win some more trophies this season and then next season and then the next season.
“The secret is not only the quality of the players and the staff, but the ambition and desire of the players, We are all young and have this desire to do more.
“We keep being hungry to win trophies and that’s the most important thing.”
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