If Thiago Silva completes his move to Chelsea ahead of the new season starting in a fortnight’s time, then the Brazilian’s new team-mates will have his Champions League final performance fresh in their minds.
The 35-year-old put in a captain’s performance in Sunday’s Champions League final despite his PSG side losing 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the Lisbon spectacle.
It was the final bow for Silva in a PSG shirt, as he is widely expected to sign a two-year deal at Stamford Bridge as Frank Lampard plans a £200million overhaul of his squad this summer.
And the PSG captain showed Blues supporters exactly what to expect if he ends up swapping the PSG blue for the lighter Chelsea one this summer.
Throughout his career, Silva has always played the same role – the defensive leader to compliment the raging egos of those further up the pitch.
At PSG, fellow countryman Neymar and golden boy Kylian Mbappe take all the morning headlines – whether they be for the right or wrong reasons. Players such as Ander Herrera, Angel Di Maria and Keylor Navas are more outspoken while Silva quietly goes about his business.
But that feeling was also one Silva felt at AC Milan, when he shared a dressing room with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ronaldinho, Kaka and David Beckham, as the Serie A club won Serie A in 2011 – a feat the club have not managed since then.
The 35-year-old’s presence has been the difference for PSG’s perennial success over the last few seasons. And with Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and potentially Kai Havertz set to sprinkle more talent to Lampard’s attack, Silva may have to adopt that role once again.
Though Sunday’s performance shows how vital Silva will be in improving his side’s defensive capabilities. The Blues’ main sources of defensive leadership – Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso – have struggled for form all season, while there are too many individual errors from the likes of Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Emerson Palmieri.
There was nothing of the sort on the Libson pitch. Silva calmed down his PSG side against the free-scoring Bayern side early on in the final.
The German champions did not have a single touch in the opposition penalty area for the first 20 minutes of the game – which was mainly down to the expert positioning and timely interceptions and made by the PSG captain.
The Brazilian made six clearances in his side’s penalty area, more than any other player on the pitch, as Bayern failed to score a goal in the opening period for the first time since football restarted in May following the coronavirus pandemic.
It is also more clearances than current Chelsea defender Rudiger has achieved in his last five games combined.
One of Silva’s main objectives in Lisbon was to keep Robert Lewandowski quiet to increase PSG’s chances of winning. The German champions have quality all over the pitch, but 55-goal Lewandowski held the keys to PSG’s downfall – so the centre-half had to limit his chances on goal.
The Polish forward certainly put up a challenge for Silva – the PSG skipper looked beaten when Lewandowski peeled away from the 35-year-old to have a clear header on goal following a cross from the right.
The Bayern forward could only fire the header near at PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas, while Silva was on hand to sweep up the rebound.
But Lewandowski was frustrated by Silva’s defensive display for most of the final, he was forced to peel off Silva’s marking and onto Juan Bernat to fire a first-half strike against the post.
His second-half goal-line clearance to keep PSG in the game epitomises his right-place-right-time ethos.
Though it was his leadership skills that impressed more than his defensive capablities in the final. Lampard will be happy with the way PSG’s young players react to playing alongside Silva.
Either side of the Brazilian were young talents Presnel Kimpembe and Thilo Kehrer, who barely put a foot wrong in Sunday’s showdown with Bayern. PSG’s captain trusted his younger team-mates in tricky situations against a relentless Bayern press, while he dished out instructions to make sure Kehrer and Kimpembe were well positioned to not give Lewandowski an inch in the area.
With players such as Reece James and Fikayo Tomori still raw in their Chelsea careers, Lampard will feel confident in giving the duo a lot of minutes when they have a natural born leader next to them.
Silva won’t fix everything – the way he was caught high up which left Kingley Coman a lot of space to open the scoring shows there is room for error with the Brazilian.
But the 35-year-old brings something that only few players have in the Chelsea dressing room he is set to join – Champions League final and title-winning experience.
He will be tasked with delivering the league title to Stamford Bridge, in the same way John Terry kept on leading the Blues to Premier League triumphs until he was 34.
He could be the best defender Chelsea have had since the Englishman hung up his boots.