Thiago Silva: Chelsea’s Free-Transfer Gem

On August 27th, Chelsea announced the signing of Thiago Silva following the expiration of his Paris Saint-Germain contract. For much of the past decade, the 35-year-old Brazilian has been one of Europe’s most consistent defenders, helping PSG achieve seven league titles in eight years.

While questions will be asked of Silva’s physical capabilities heading to the Premier League in the latter stages of his career, few can argue that acquiring the Brazilian on a one-year deal is sensible business. So, let’s discuss how the former AC Milan defender can make the difference at Chelsea.

An Abundance of Experience

Following Chelsea’s recent transfer ban and fourth-place finish in the 2019-20 season, the Blues owner, Roman Abramovich, has shown his intent to close the gap at the top to Liverpool and Manchester City going forward. Along with Silva, the London club have also signed Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, Malang Sarr, and Timo Werner.

Unlike many of the Blues’ signings, Silva arrives at Stamford Bridge will little expectations having moved on a free transfer. Crucially, experience could be the key to Frank Lampard resolving his defensive issues. According to the official Premier League website, Chelsea were ranked twelfth for clean sheets, level with Brighton, Crystal Palace, Everton and Southampton.

Throughout his career, Silva has featured in 510 matches, with 204 of those coming in Ligue 1, as per Transfermarkt. Moreover, the 35-year-old has only been sent off three times in his career, so ill-discipline won’t be a concern for Lampard. Perhaps more importantly for Lampard’s youthful squad, the former Brazil captain has played in 80 Champions League matches, finishing as a runner-up once in that time. That experience could be crucial to Chelsea enjoying a fruitful European campaign next season, with the Blues currently priced at 20/1 in the football betting to win the tournament, as of August 28th.

Central to Teammate Development

Upon looking at Chelsea’s options regarding central defenders, it’s no surprise that the Blues struggled to keep clean sheets in 2019-20. Although Kepa Arrizabalaga didn’t always cover himself in glory, Antonio Rudiger was the club’s only centre-back aged 27 or above. Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori are still relatively inexperienced concerning top-level English football, while Kurt Zouma is inconsistent. As such, the leadership of Silva is likely to serve them well.

Stamford Bridge” (CC BY 2.0) by footballvacancies

Furthermore, leadership may have been another factor behind Lampard’s desire to bring in Silva. While Cesar Azpilicueta is a captain who leads by example, the club have lacked an organiser at the heart of defence since John Terry left in 2017. Although the Brazilian is highly unlikely to become the Blues’ next Terry, he will undoubtedly provide Lampard with much-needed leadership at the back. In turn, this could be the difference in closing the gap to City and Liverpool.

PSG’s Loss is Chelsea’s Gain

At the time of writing, it remains to be seen as to whether Silva can adapt to Premier League football. However, on paper, his signing appears to be a stroke of genius from the six-time English league title winners. Silva will bring leadership and organisation to a backline that has too often been lacklustre and easily broken through.

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