Thiago Silva (£5.5m) looks set to transform Chelsea’s defensive capabilities after completing a move from Paris Saint Germain.
Frank Lampard’s new-look squad is already shaping up to be much-improved from the side that showed so much promise last season – and now they have a sorely needed defensive leader in the ranks.
We have assessed the centre-back’s ability and compared him against his new colleagues to see what impact he will have on Fantasy Premier League in 2020/21…
The History and Statistics
Thiago Silva arrives at Chelsea regarded as one of the greatest central defenders of the last decade.
Between 2012 and 2020, the Brazilian won seven Ligue 1 titles with PSG, as well as five French Cups and six French League Cups, having also won Serie A and the Italian Super Cup with AC Milan before that.
The serial-winning nature of the PSG squad over that time has been heavily influenced by Silva’s stabling presence at the back.
The centre-back is internationally renowned for his ability to read the game well, possessing the pace to patrol his defensive area effortlessly. Very much in the mould of Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m), Silva is the calming influence on those around him, retaining his composure in even the most high-pressure situations.
Because he anticipates danger so well, he rarely ends up in situations that require desperate measures, which is why in nine Champions League games last season, he committed just four fouls.
Perhaps the best way to highlight his importance to any team is his role in Brazil’s infamous World Cup 2014 campaign. The host nation marched all the way to the semi-finals of the competition – but had to play that crucial match without Silva, due to a yellow-card suspension.
In the absence of their defensive rock, Brazil were completely blown away, thrashed 7-1 by a ruthless Germany side in one of the most humiliating results in World Cup history.
In short, Silva theoretically has the ability to transform any team from a defensive shambles to a tight and organised unit.
A key man for PSG over the last eight years, he has operated at a high level in the Champions League too. Although he has never won the tournament, Silva has made a minimum of seven appearances on the continent, in six of the last eight campaigns, taking his team to the final last season.
“With Thiago Silva, we are looking at a player I know very well, pretty much as we all do. He brings great experience for us, he is still playing at a massively high level, as we saw in the Champions League final and games towards the final, so I expect him to come and bring that, bring his experience, leadership and his qualities. It is going to be very important for us.” – Frank Lampard
Such experience in the Champions League means Silva also has plenty of experience playing against English clubs, which could prove key ahead of a move to the Premier League.
He has faced Chelsea six times in his career, losing just one of those meetings. Even when his PSG side were famously beaten at the death by Manchester United in 2018/19, Silva had spent much of the game as one of the best players on the pitch. He dominated that outing with his exceptional passing abilities, another feature of his stabling influence on any team. Incredibly, over the last seasons, the centre-back has ranked second-best among all PSG players for completed passes.
With these skills, Silva helps his teams command the lion’s share of possession and his composure on the ball is another reason why patrolling his defensive areas are often so comfortable for him. Anyone who watched the recent Champions League final will have noticed how well the Brazilian coped with Bayern Munich’s high press.
Silva also does offer some aerial threat at set-pieces but he does not necessarily come to this country as a prolific scorer of goals. In eight years at PSG, he found the net in nine league games.
|2019-20||Tackle win percentage||Aerial duel win percentage||Minutes per clearance||Minutes per block||Minutes per interception|
It is clear that Silva will have a massive impact on Chelsea’s clean sheet potential for the new season.
As you can see from the table above, his percentage of tackles won in 2019/20 was significantly higher than anyone else who played centre-back for Chelsea last season.
Meanwhile, only Kurt Zouma (£5.0m) bested the Brazilian for the ratio of aerial duels won and minutes per clearance.
The former Everton loanee was also further ahead for minutes per interception, while Fikayo Tomori (£5.0m) and Andreas Christensen (£5.0m) were marginally better than Silva for this statistic.
However, the former PSG man comes to Chelsea having registered a better figure for minutes per block than any of his new colleagues managed last season.
Considering that PSG dominated Ligue 1 once again in 2019/20, finishing 12 points ahead of Marseille and conceding just 24 goals in 27, the fact that Silva offered such a favourable comparison with Chelsea defenders says a lot about how much of a contribution he can make in the Premier League.
While PSG let in an average of 0.9 goals per game in Ligue 1 last year, the Blues average goals conceded per game was 1.42. Plenty of work for Silva to get stuck into, then.
However, we should point out that until Lampard solves his goalkeeper problem, Silva’s presence may only go so far. After all, Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.0m) had the Premier League’s worst expected Goals Prevented score of any shot-stopper last season.
It also looks as if he can help Chelsea’s defensive prospects from a possession perspective as well. Not only will he likely increase the team’s ability to produce Clearances, Blocks and Interceptions (CBIs), but Silva will likely improve their command of the ball.
In an admittedly easier league, he registered a pass completion rate of 95.5% in 2019/20, higher than anyone else in Chelsea’s squad who played more than once last season. That mantle fell to Christensen, who completed 91% of his passes.
This ability, while also residually increasing the chances of a Chelsea clean sheet, could also be important for Silva when it comes to accruing bonus points.
Perhaps the only question hanging over Silva in terms of his own FPL appeal, is how often he will start games. At 35 years of age, he is certainly in the closing stages of his career, nor is he expected to stay at Chelsea for a long-term period.
Could that see Lampard use the veteran defender sparingly, especially considering the number of fronts Chelsea will be competing on this season?
Well, the 2019/20 campaign certainly demonstrated that Silva still has the legs and longevity to persistently perform at the highest level, considering he made nine Champions League appearances for PSG.
Among his colleagues, only Presnel Kimpembe and Juan Bernat (10 each) played more times in the competition.
Silva did play slightly fewer Ligue 1 matches, appearing in 21 and starting 20, but this was not due to rotation. He only missed some league action due to a groin injury in January and hamstring problem in February.
One other element not considered thus far is the impact Sila will have on those around him. Bringing a vastly experienced central defender, who leads by example and has won plenty of silverware, is exactly what Chelsea need in their young defence right now.
As a result, the other centre-backs in Lampard’s rapidly developing squad should, in theory, improve after spending time with Silva.
“We have a relatively young squad, we saw that last year, there were games afterwards when I was probably asking for more voice and some more leadership in different ways and he brings that naturally straight away, and also on the pitch he can help talk and be the player that he is which means affecting others. On those levels, I hope he brings that. I am pretty sure he will with the qualities we know he has, so I am excited for when he joins up.” – Frank Lampard
Following on from that, Silva’s arrival should also improve the FPL points potential of Chelsea defenders, as well as offering some clean sheets of his own.
With the Brazilian rooted at the heart of the back-four, Fantasy managers are now more likely to look to Ben Chilwell (£5.5m) and Reece James (£5.0m) in the hope they can nail down starting berths at full-back, although Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.0m) and Marcos Alonso (£6.0m) are likely to cause complications there with so many competitions to compete in. So if Silva is able to retain a level of sharpness that allows him to play every game, he could also end up as the most nailed-on starter in Chelsea’s defence, especially helpful given his price.
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