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In Focus: Evergreen Silva worth his weight in gold for Chelsea
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Matthew Hill
Thiago Silva has been a rock at the back since joining Chelsea despite his advancing years
Thiago Silva has been a rock at the back since joining Chelsea despite his advancing years

Chelsea took their first step towards solving an impending defensive crisis by extending Thiago Silva’s contract on Monday.

The 37-year-old Brazilian has agreed to stay at Stamford Bridge until at least the end of the 2022-23 campaign in news which is sure to have delighted his boss Thomas Tuchel.

Ahead of tomorrow’s Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg encounter against Tottenham, we take a look at the Blues’ defensive situation and assess just how key tying down their veteran may prove to be. 

An Indian summer

When Silva’s arrival in West London was confirmed back in the summer of 2020, few imagined it would be a long-term venture — not even Silva himself.

At the twilight of a glittering career, his acquisition was seen as a shrewd deal which would allow the iconic star to experience a taste of Premier League football while also passing on his infinite wisdom and experience to the Blues’ other defenders. 

However, Silva has shown that age is nothing more than a number by establishing himself as a frequent starter and key performer at the heart of Chelsea’s defence despite his advancing years.

Upon signing his latest extension, the former Paris Saint-Germain defender admitted: "I never thought I would play for three years here in this great club, so I’m very happy to stay for another season.

"I will continue to give everything for this club and for the supporters, who have always been by my side since I arrived."

Defying logic

Chelsea veteran Thiago Silva has been one of the Premier League's best defenders this season
Chelsea veteran Thiago Silva has been one of the Premier League's best defenders this season

At Silva’s age, injuries usually wreak havoc but the 102-cap international is proving an exception to the rule.

The weekend’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool marked his 22nd appearance in all competitions this term, making him one of the division’s most reliable defenders in fitness as well as performance.

It is a Herculean effort that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Tuchel, who said: "He’s like Benjamin Button. Thiago Button the footballer!

"I know how much work and professional attitude is behind that. It is a miracle in a way, because he came to this league, with the schedule and the approach and the intensity on a daily basis at the very end of his career, which was very brave.

"I know how much effort he puts in to stay fit and how much effort he puts in off the pitch at home taking care of his recovery, his sleep and his nutrition. 

"It is simply outstanding and only because of that it’s possible."

Work to do

Although still fit and fully capable, the fact that Silva will be nearing 39 by the end of his new agreement means the club must keep one eye on the future too.

While the Brazilian has now committed to next term, the trio of Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are still yet to agree new deals and could exit this summer.

German international Rudiger in particular has become one of the Blues’ top performers under Tuchel’s tutelage — but looks increasingly likely to depart.

The 28-year-old is free to agree a pre-contract with a non-English club this month ahead of a free transfer in summer, with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid supposedly happy to offer the significant wage rise he has requested.

Even though there is still time for new deals to be struck, it is hard to confidently say who will be partnering Silva at the heart of Chelsea’s backline next season.

In-house alternatives

Trevoh Chalobah has taken his opportunity in the Chelsea first team
Trevoh Chalobah has taken his opportunity in the Chelsea first team

One of the positives from the Blues' campaign has been the emergence of Trevoh Chalobah.

The 22-year-old academy product seized the opportunity given to him at the start of the season and, thanks to a string of impressive performances, is now a regular starter alongside Silva at Stamford Bridge.

The youngster’s speed and versatility makes him a real asset to Tuchel, while his age means he should only continue to improve with more game time.

However, while Chalobah fills one void, there remains insufficient evidence to declare whether fellow 22-year-old Malang Sarr is ready to step into the first-team picture as well.

Signed after his release from Nice in August 2020, Sarr spent last season on loan at Porto where he only appeared occasionally and just one Premier League start this year suggests his manager is not yet quite convinced.

New blood

Even if contract disputes are resolved, Chelsea seem certain to bring in defensive reinforcements over the coming two windows.

Links with Sevilla ace Jules Kounde continue to persist, with recent reports suggesting the Spaniards will now consider offers in the region of £50million for their star man.

Such a fee would not be a stumbling block for the Londoners and the 23-year-old French international is thought to be keen to test himself in the Premier League.

Whether or not there will be a new arrival in January remains to be seen — but the Blues may be well served by acting early to avoid any summer scrambling. 

In the meantime, they can bank on the ever-reliable Silva to hold the fort.



ChelseaPremier LeagueThiago Silva
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