Thiago Silva is old, slowing down and had easy life at PSG, fixing Chelsea's defence is huge test of his character

Thiago Silva is old, slowing down and had easy life at PSG, fixing Chelsea's defence is huge test of his character

IT MAY have made sense from a financial point of view, but it was surely a waste for one of the world’s great defenders to spend eight years of his career with Paris Saint Germain. 

At the other end of the pitch, PSG’s expensive attacking talents can boost their egos while they boost their bank balances, racking up the goals and the assists.  

But for Thiago Silva, holding the fort must often have seemed an easy, even irrelevant task. 

Such days are now over.  

The Brazilian centre back has now moved to Chelsea, where the pressure will be on – and it will be fascinating to see how both his body and his mind react to the new challenge. 

Thiago Silva is one of the outstanding centre backs that football has produced in the 21st century.  

With the Fluminense club in his native Rio he picked up the nickname of ‘the Monster’ – which could give people the wrong impression.  

He is no ogre like creature, breathing fire and intimidating opposing strikers with bad breath and worse manners.  

True, he is physically strong.  But his manner is quiet, almost apologetic.  

He can match big centre forwards in a physical battle, but he can also outpace them, anticipate their moves, use the short cuts and get to the ball first. 

It was that speed that made him so attractive to Milan some 12 years ago.  

The Italian club’s idea of a great centre back is Franco Baresi, quick and clever enough to operate a high defensive line.  

At Fluminense Thiago Silva had the pace but not the practice.  He preferred to play very deep, almost on top of the goalkeeper.  

It was to his advantage that Milan could not use him for six months after they bought him.  They had filled their quota of non-EC players.  

It gave them time to drill Thiago Silva on the training ground, to teach him how to play higher up the field – and when he was unleashed in mid 2009 he was an instant sensation. 

It is that speed that will now come under the microscope.  

The player is 36 later this month, and inevitably past his physical peak.  

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea were notoriously vulnerable to the counter attack last season.  

The Thiago Silva of five years ago would have been able to solve the problem.  Can he still do it now? 

And if he cannot – or fears that he cannot, then how will that affect him? 

Thiago Silva is a worrier.  He was a disastrous choice to captain Brazil on home ground in the 2014 World Cup.  

Even before the tournament he confessed that he was losing sleep because of the pressure – and it showed. 

One of the enduring images of Brazil’s campaign is the moment when the second round game against Chile went to a penalty shoot-out.  

Thiago Silva should have been rallying his men, and, as a fine dead ball striker, would be a candidate to take a penalty.  

Instead he sat on a football, away from everyone else, crying his eyes out.  It was all too much for him.  

In the next game, the quarter final against Colombia, he picked up a silly yellow card for trying to stop opposing keeper David Ospina kicking the ball out – meaning that the captain and defensive organizer had got himself suspended for the fateful semi-final against the Germans. 

After the competition Brazil reappointed Dunga as coach.  In his previous spell Dunga had given Thiago Silva his international debut.  

Now, appalled by what he had seen in the World Cup, Dunga did not want him near the team.  

A former World Cup winning captain and a symbol of fist pumping leadership, Dunga appeared to regret bringing back Thiago Silva for the 2015 Copa America.  

It was only in the run up to the last World Cup that coach Tite made him first choice once more – and that may have been a mistake.  

It meant that his PSG colleague Marquinhos lost his place – and the speed of Marquinhos would have come in handy in the quarter-final against Belgium, when Brazil were ambushed in the first half and lost 2-1. 

Thiago Silva certainly has the class to be a successful signing for Chelsea.  

But does he have the strength of personality to play the leadership role that Frank Lampard is looking for?  

And does he still have the speed to shore up a defence that can be left open?  

These are monster questions in the build up to the new season. 

Source: Read Full Article