Thiago Silva Leaves Big Boots to Fill after Illustrious Four-Year Spell at Stamford Bridge

Thiago Silva has confirmed that he will leave Chelsea when his contract runs out at the end of the season, ending a hugely successful four-year stint in west London. There has been plenty of speculation surrounding the Brazilian’s future at Stamford Bridge, but he has put those rumours to bed after delivering an emotional farewell message to the club faithful.


Silva has been a mainstay in the Chelsea backline since joining from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2020 and will go down as one of the club’s best free transfers of all time. At the tender age of 39, Silva has featured 36 times for Chelsea across all competitions this season, contributing four goals and an assist – his most in a Blues shirt with two games remaining.


The bulk of his goal contributions have come in the Premier League, where he has surprisingly also created three big chances, emphasising his impact in the final third. For a player rapidly approaching his 40s, Silva has been rock solid for Chelsea this term.



Barring a few lapses in concentration here and there, he has arguably been Chelsea’s best and most consistent centre-back and has missed just five games through injuries this season. He was replaced in the dying embers of the 2-2 draw against Aston Villa after picking up a knock, sparking fears that he may have played his last game for the Blues.


However, he returned to the starting line-up for the subsequent London derby against West Ham United and delivered his best performance yet in a Chelsea shirt this season. In addition to setting up Noni Madueke for Chelsea’s third goal in the 5-0 rout, Silva capped off a five-star performance with nine clearances and three tackles.


The Brazilian was firmly involved in Chelsea’s dazzling performance, orchestrating play from the heart of the defence with 90 touches and two key passes. While he lost the only aerial duel he contested, the ex-AC Milan stalwart was undefeated in ground battles, winning 3/3 1v1 duels.


Silva’s performance against West Ham wasn’t a one-off. He has lived up to his ‘O Monstro’ tag admirably throughout the season, averaging 0.9 interceptions, one tackle, 4.7 ball recoveries, and 4.6 clearances per 90. He would be keen to sign off an exceptional spell at Chelsea by helping Mauricio Pochettino’s side clinch a spot in the Europa League ahead of Manchester United and Newcastle United.



However, regardless of the final Premier League rankings, Silva’s spell in the English top flight has further cemented his status as one of the greatest defenders of all time. The ‘Rolls Royce’ centre-half has bossed it in the ‘best league in the world’, and it’s up to the Chelsea fans to ensure his legacy lives on at the Bridge either as a cult hero or a club legend.


Silva has made 150+ appearances during his four-year stint at Chelsea, contributing nine goals and four assists and has been crucial to the club’s success during his spell. The Brazilian arrived in West London with a decorated trophy cabinet, missing only the coveted Champions League title. However, he promptly rectified that in his debut season, forming the backbone of a defensive unit that was key to Chelsea’s second Champions League triumph under Thomas Tuchel. 


The Club World Cup soon followed, with Silva becoming the only Premier League defender to be named Player of the Tournament in the competition before adding the UEFA Super Cup trophy to his stellar collection. Silva turned 36 before making his Premier League debut. No centre-back in the modern era had come to the English top flight so late in their career, yet he has performed consistently at a high level and has been head and shoulders above nearly every defender in the division, bar Virgil van Dijk.


According to Squawka’s score, only the Liverpool captain ranks higher than Silva amongst the best centre-backs in the Premier League since the start of the 2020/21 season. Furthermore, Silva is one of only two players across Europe’s top five leagues who have contested 250+ aerial duels and 250+ ground duels while maintaining a 65%+ success rate for both.



This season, the Brazilian is one of seven Chelsea players to amass over 2,000 minutes of Premier League football, second only to Axel Disasi among centre-backs. Silva’s defensive presence on the pitch is undeniable, boasting the second-highest average for possessions won in the defensive third among Chelsea defenders, at an impressive 3.14 per game.


His aerial prowess is a marvel, considering his height. Standing at just 5 ft 11, Silva defies his stature to lead the team in clearances per 90 minutes (4.81) and sits second for headed clearances (2.39 per 90). His ability to dominate aerial battles is a testament to his exceptional reading of the game and his tireless work ethic.


Silva also boasts the second-highest passes per 90 amongst Chelsea’s centre-backs, but it’s his accuracy that truly sets him apart. A staggering 94.75% of his attempted passes find their target, the best mark among his teammates. He also leads the way in final third passes (6.04 per 90) and successful long balls (3.58 per 90), showcasing his ability to initiate attacks from deep.


Chelsea could be the final chapter in Silva’s illustrious European career amid rumours of a potential return to his homeland with Fluminense. Age has been used to discount the Brazilian ever since he arrived in England, but he has silenced his doubters with aplomb. His achievements in west London are genuinely unprecedented and he has undoubtedly carved his name into Chelsea folklore, earning the universal adoration of the club faithful despite the language barrier.



Since Silva announced his imminent departure from Chelsea, many have been scratching their heads about whether the Blues are making a huge mistake by letting the highly experienced defender leave the club this summer. Those sentiments are not wide off the mark, considering he is the most experienced player on a Chelsea roster largely dominated by promising yet inexperienced talents.


Chelsea have been criticised for their youth-focused transfer policy since Todd Boehly started running things. But there are rumours that they will prioritise signing experienced players this summer. That change in tactics might be a necessity, considering the turbulent campaign they’ve endured, but there’s still a Europa League finish to fight for with three games until the end of the 2023/24 season.


At 39, it’s fair to say Silva is in his declining phase, yet he is Chelsea’s best option at centre-back by a country mile, and his experience remains invaluable for the young squad. His composure and tactical nous were crucial in Chelsea’s past triumphs, and the decision to cut him loose reeks of yet another short-sighted judgement that has plagued the club in the Boehly era.



Thiago Silva has been made a scapegoat at times this season, with many citing his lack of pace as a liability in Pochettino’s high-pressing system. But his exit will further weaken an already vulnerable backline. The Brazilian has sculpted himself into a marvel of longevity, meticulously maintaining his body and utilising his brilliant mind and exquisite touch to continue performing at a high level this late into his career. 


This summer, the colossal task of replacing his unique blend of personality, experience, footballing IQ, and sheer talent will be a formidably difficult task for the Blues, and they cannot afford to get it wrong.


By: Onyekachi Uwanabi / @__Kachi_

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Marc Atkins – Getty Images