29 Mar 2022

Where does Thiago Silva rank in the list of best defenders of his generation?

Post by Jordan Toplen

Mention the name, Thiago Emiliano da Silva in West London, and some ears might prick, but mention Thiago Silva, and you may be serenaded with a burst of Oh Thiago Silva, a song sung regularly on the terraces of Stamford Bridge for Chelsea’s ageless centreback, who continues to make a mockery of his age with his peerless displays week after week in the Premier League and Champions League. Long heralded as one of the most graceful defenders of his era, he has earned more plaudits since moving to England.

At age 37, he should be on the wane, but shockingly, he seems to get better every weekend, which begs the question of where he ranks among the greatest players of his generation. The most common names will be Carles Puyol, Sergio Ramos, and John Terry, three of the most accomplished central defenders of their time. However, Thiago Silva can also lay claim to being in that bracket and there are reasons to say so. He was once the most expensive defender in the world prior to arriving at PSG following his exploits at AC Milan.

He stood out in Paris for his leadership, tough-tackling but most especially, he earned more admirers for how easy he made defending look. Not the tallest defender, standing at just 1.84m, he more than makes up for his lack of height with remarkable jumping and ability to anticipate the attacking moves of opposition teams, but what stands him out is his calmness and unflappable attitude at the back. The English media have always under-appreciated him but since moving to England, it has become really clear how good he is.

He has won a total of 29 club titles in his career, with the 2019 Copa America triumph representing his finest moment in a Brazil shirt, a jersey he has won 104 times, since making his debut against Portugal in 2008. While Ramos might perhaps be the finest centreback of his career due to the sheer numbers he pulled despite being a defender and the number of major trophies he won, Thiago Silva is not far behind, because what he is doing at 37 in the biggest and most demanding league in the world is simply unthinkable.

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