Pep Guardiola is confident Bernardo Silva will enjoy a strong season for Manchester City after a below-par 2019-20.

Silva scored for Portugal against Sweden in the Nations League on Wednesday, and received backing from Guardiola ahead of City’s clash with Arsenal.

While the playmaker was directly involved in 13 goals last Premier League season – compared to 14 in 2018-19 – he created fewer chances.

Silva created 71 chances, including assists, in 2018-19 and that number dropped to 51 last season, when he played 824 fewer minutes.

Guardiola said the 26-year-old was exhausted last season, having helped City win four domestic trophies and Portugal clinch the Nations League the campaign prior.

“He was injured in some moments and he didn’t reach the levels of previous season, but it happens. I’ve an opinion that if there’s one player I have absolutely no doubts about who he is as a football player, it’s Bernardo,” the City manager told reporters. 

“He played absolutely incredible all season when we won four domestic titles, incredible, then was the best player with Portugal at the UEFA Nations League Finals.

“He didn’t have time to refresh, he was exhausted and his mind was exhausted and he struggled with this. It is not because he didn’t want it, it was because we demand a lot of the players and sometimes it is not possible.

“In the NBA – the best league in basketball and we can say the Premier League is one of the best in football – they have three or four months break, they play a lot of games – 70 or 80 – but they have three or four months’ break.”

Guardiola added: “With Bernardo it was like this – he couldn’t refresh mentally and started the season tired mentally.

“But I have a feeling he’ll have a very good season this season because he’s coming back in many things to what we’ve seen in the past.”

Ahead of hosting Arsenal on Saturday, City are 14th in the table after earning just four points from their opening three games.