Frank Lampard has made the Premier League stand up and take notice by overhauling his attacking ranks in the transfer window but it is his swoop for Thiago Silva that could prove to be his greatest masterstroke.
The PSG defender will bid farewell to the French giants after Sunday’s Champions League final and a stunning move to Chelsea could be in the offing after it emerged the two parties have been holding talks this week.
Unsurprisingly, Silva has an array of offers to consider, including one from Serie A side Fiorentina but a move to the Premier League, and to a side that is in next season’s Champions League, has caught his eye.
Veteran defender Thiago Silva is in talks with Chelsea over a free transfer to Stamford Bridge – he will leave PSG after Sunday’s Champions League final following eight years in France
It could prove to be an inspired move by Chelsea boss Frank Lampard – for all the attacking talent he has bought this summer, the defensive issues still need to be addressed
Silva could leave PSG with a Champions League medal – he has enjoyed eight trophy-laden years in the French capital, winning the Ligue 1 title an incredible seven times
Roman Abramovich has so far backed Lampard to the tune of £181million after impressively guiding Chelsea into the top four against the odds in his first season.
Lampard splashed out £53m on Timo Werner from RB Leipzig, a striker linked with Liverpool and Barcelona. They moved quickly to snap up Hakim Ziyech in February – the mercurial winger a stand-out performer in the enterprising Ajax side that reached the 2019 Champions League semi-final.
And another £90m will follow on Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz – the Germany playmaker is one of Europe’s most coveted talents but his heart is set on Stamford Bridge and a move is close.
But make no mistake, for the embarrassment of riches Lampard boasts in attack, a new defender is an imperative acquisition. Chelsea shipped 54 goals last season, the most in the top 10 of the Premier League.
At 35 and with a bagful of medals to show from club level and the international stage with Brazil, Silva can bring the street-smart experience that Lampard’s defence is badly lacking.
More experienced members of that backline, such as Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta, struggled for their best form last season but the emergence of promising youngsters such as Reece James and Fikayo Tomori were immensley encouraging signs for Lampard.
At AC Milan, Silva (third left, top row) formed the bedrock of a star-studded side and played alongside some the game’s greats: Front row: Felipe Mattioni, Kaka, Massimo Ambrosini, Marek Jankulovski and David Beckham. Top Row: Ronaldinho, Philippe Senderos, Thiago Silva, Andriy Shevchenko, Clarence Seedorf and Zeljko Kalac
In 2011, Silva and Milan were crowned Serie A winners and while he formed a key part of their stern defence, team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic spearheaded their push to glory
Silva also played alongside Ronaldinho in Italy – the pair were also team-mates in the international setup with the Brazilian national side
Now, blending a player of Silva’s calibre into the mix could propel those youngsters onto new levels.
Furthermore, Silva has mixed it with the great and the good of European football throughout his career. He won Serie A with AC Milan in 2011 and during his time at the San Siro, played with stars such as Kaka, Clarence Seedorf, Ronaldinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a certain David Beckham.
At PSG, he’s kept on his toes by training against the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi.
He has been a mainstay of a side that has dominated French football since he arrived there in 2012 – they’ve won seven league titles in that time, and he has a chance to bow out with a winners’ medal in the biggest tournament of all – and one that has escaped him in an otherwise glittering career.
Silva has 89 caps for Brazil, making his debut in 2008 and winning the 2019 Copa America and the 2013 Confederations Cup.
It is worth remembering too Silva’s organisational skills could help Lampard with his goalkeeping conundrum, as well.
He is clearly unconvinced by £72m goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and it remains to be seen whether he backs Willy Caballero between the sticks across the course of what is going to be a packed Premier League schedule in 2020-21.
Silva (right, with Neymar) has played 89 times for Brazil, scoring seven goals and winning two international honours – the Confederations Cup in 2013 and the Copa America in 2019
Chelsea shipped 54 goals last season – the most out of all of the Premier League sides that finished in the top 10 and Silva’s experience could prove to be a game-changer
Lampard also has a decision to make over £72m goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga – the Spaniard could be helped by having a defender of Silva’s level and experience in front of him
Lampard has a decision to make there and if he decides to return Kepa, who is still only 25, to No 1 status then Silva’s know-how could boost his confidence as there would be much more cohesion among the defensive line in front of him.
As ever, no deal is without pitfalls and there is an element of a gamble here. Silva is 36 next month and at that age, it remains to be seen if he still has the legs to adjust to the physicality that comes with playing Premier League football week in, week out. It is believed he wants more than a one-year contract if he is to join.
But it is a gamble Lampard clearly feels he has to take and on a free transfer, the risk is low. No matter how strong Chelsea’s attack is, it will be difficult to build upon a fourth-place finish if Lampard’s team don’t stop leaking goals.
THIAGO SILVA’S CAREER CV
2002–2003: RS Futebol (Brazil)
2003–2004: Juventude (Brazil)
2004–2005: Porto B
2005–2006: Dynamo Moscow
Honours: Copa do Brasil (2007)
2009–2012: AC Milan
Honours: Serie A (2011), Italian Super Cup (2011)
2012–2020: Paris Saint-Germain
Honours: Ligue 1 x7 (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020)
French Cup x5 (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020)
French League Cup x6 (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020)
Champions trophy x5 (2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019)
Brazil: 89 caps, seven goals
Honours: Confederations Cup (2013), Copa America (2019)