Thiago Silva’s presence at Chelsea is diminishing as he ages | Jacob Steinberg

Thiago Silva’s presence at Chelsea is diminishing as he ages | Jacob Steinberg


Maybe Bell e, the wife of Thiago Silva, had a point when she used social media to call for a change during Chelsea’s loss to Wolves. The team struggled to defend against Pedro Neto and Matheus Cunha, and it’s no coincidence that their absence made it easier for Mauricio Pochettino’s team to dominate and achieve their best performance of the season in their victory over Aston Villa last Wednesday.

There may be indications that Silva’s time at Chelsea is coming to an end sooner than expected. However, the club faces a difficult situation as they do not intend to renew his contract when it expires at the end of the season, but they also do not want to show any disrespect towards him. As one of the top defenders of his era, Silva will still have a significant role to play in the upcoming months. It is crucial for him to depart on positive terms.

Some people believe that Chelsea should start to gradually replace Silva. This was proven during the FA Cup game against Villa, where the younger and faster defenders, Badiashile and Disasi, successfully stopped Watkins. With Pochettino’s decision to have more mobile defenders, Chelsea, who had struggled in their last two games by conceding eight goals, appeared more stable and balanced at Villa Park.

Chelsea displayed a unique style of play similar to that of a team coached by Pochettino. They showed assertiveness in tackling for possession and effectively utilized their passing game against Villa. They also maintained a strong defensive midfield presence. Their attacking strategies were noteworthy. There seems to be no need for any changes at this point.

The obvious response is that Badiashile may not play due to a groin injury during Chelsea’s match against Crystal Palace on Monday. However, looking ahead, it is evident that Silva’s position as a starting player is in jeopardy. It is not unreasonable to propose that Chelsea could benefit from Silva taking a break and spending more time on the sidelines.

This does not mean that having the veteran on the team is worthless. It would be advantageous to have him join the team when Chelsea is attempting to secure a win, and it would also be extremely beneficial for young defenders like Badiashile, Disasi, and Levi Colwill to practice with someone as experienced as Silva.

Thiago Silva scores a goalView image in fullscreen

Putting emotions aside, there are indications that Silva is starting to feel the effects of his age. While he can still perform well in a defensive position, he struggles when faced with faster opponents.

This situation may be uncomfortable since Silva is highly admired by fans. Pochettino, who has not yet connected with the audience, must be cautious when discussing the center-back. It would have been unproductive for him to make a big deal out of Belle Silva’s tweet.

However, Pochettino cannot ignore Neto’s speed as he easily passed Silva and assisted in Wolves’ third goal last weekend. It is pointless to argue that Silva should not have been put in that position, as this analysis overlooks the disadvantages of Chelsea altering their tactics to solely protect one player.

The perspective must shift. Upon assuming the role of manager at Chelsea three years ago, Thomas Tuchel made it a priority to address Silva’s lack of speed. The German placed emphasis on defensive solidity and ultimately led the team to victory in the Champions League using a controlled 3-4-2-1 formation.

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Tuchel was never at ease with utilizing Silva as a part of a four-man defense, especially since he also had to consider Jorginho’s lack of physicality in the midfield. He was concerned that opposing teams would take advantage if they were to open up, and this was also a dilemma faced by Graham Potter when he took over for Tuchel last season. Trying to accommodate Silva’s preference for a back four did not prove successful. Potter may have noticed that his best performance as Chelsea manager – their comeback against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League round of 16 – occurred when Silva’s injury forced him to switch to a three-man backline.

This situation presents a challenge for Pochettino to consider. As a manager who prioritizes offensive play, he has alternated between using a 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formation this season. However, within the Chelsea team, there is a belief that Silva’s presence leads to too many compromises in terms of tactics. When Silva plays as the left centre-back, it affects the positioning of the left-back. It may not be surprising that Wolves targeted Ben Chilwell’s side of the field during their recent match. Furthermore, it may also explain why Chilwell, a typically aggressive full-back, appeared more at ease with Badiashile filling in for Silva against Aston Villa.

Perhaps not. Pochettino must consider how to handle this situation. Earlier in the season, there were concerns among the team about Silva not being chosen as captain. Teammates expressed feelings of disrespect. However, it could be argued that Silva’s limited English and quiet demeanor at training may contribute to this issue.

It would be a bold decision to not include Silva in the starting lineup for Chelsea’s Carabao Cup final against Liverpool this month. Badiashile and Disasi, both French internationals, have potential but have struggled to maintain consistency since joining from Monaco. Pochettino may be concerned that Chelsea lacks stability without Silva. 20-year-old Colwill is still developing and 23-year-old Wesley Fofana is injured for the rest of the season. It is not uncommon to see Silva engaged in intense discussions with Pochettino on the sidelines when the young team begins to lose control.

Silva’s presence may be diminishing, while Badiashile, Colwill, Disasi, and Fofana – all young defenders – have the potential to stay at Chelsea for a long time. It may be appropriate for Pochettino to step back and allow the next generation to step up.