Pep Guardiola hailed Bernardo Silva's Community Shield performance as "a masterpiece" and suggested the Portuguese is currently one of the first names on his Manchester City team sheet.
Silva was instrumental in City's 2-0 success over Chelsea at Wembley, setting up Sergio Aguero to score the second goal and operating in a more central berth with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva not involved.
Only De Bruyne and Ederson appeared in more Premier League games than Bernardo Silva last season - though 20 of his outings were from the bench - and the champions' manager Guardiola admits the 23-year-old is at the forefront of his mind as he approaches the new campaign.
"The performance of Bernardo Silva was a masterpiece," the City boss said.
"Everybody knows the wingers want to compete. Right now, it is Bernardo and 10 players more. Right now. But in 11 months it depends on what they show me on the pitch.
"Bernardo is far away from other guys, so that's why, at the moment, he plays.
"He is so intelligent, he is clever. He is a fighter, a competitor. I think he is the guy most beloved in our team and today he showed me a lot of things.
"He came back earlier and that showed me again a lot of things and that's one of the reasons we won today. It was for many reasons. One of the reasons was Bernardo."
Another huge factor was the contribution of Aguero, who passed 200 goals for the club with a brace.
Guardiola has been impressed with the shape City's all-time record scorer returned to the club in after the World Cup and believes the Argentinian can hit the ground running when City begin their title defence.
Un nuevo título y pasar los 200 goles con el City. Muy buena manera de empezar la temporada. Y vamos por más! #201//A new title and just broke the 200th goal mark for City. Great way to begin the season. And we'll aim for more! #201August 5, 2018
"We were really impressed when he arrived," Guardiola added of Aguero.
"Sergio always has a little bit with his physicality - maybe he needs a little bit more time to take his physical condition. But he arrived so sharp, so good.
"I think at the end of last season, the knee operation...he suffered the previous years with a little bit of a problem and Ramon Cugat, the best doctor in the world, made the perfect surgery and now he feels free.
"I think it's good news for us for the season. He scored two goals, produced chances, he could have scored three or four or five. That is good."
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