Looks like with each passing season Thiago Silva is one year younger, although he may not have felt it after his brilliant first-half goal-line clearance against Juventus.
Silva is 37 and 27 and produced an acrobatic clearance that players much younger than him would have been proud to stop Alvaro Morata from scoring on his return to Stamford Bridge.
The Brazilian got injured keeping Morata away and yet he managed to keep going and didn’t set foot in what turned out to be a comfortable Chelsea win.
Head coach Thomas Tuchel will now sweat the fitness of N’Golo Kante and Ben Chilwell after both players were forced to leave, but Silva looked in good shape to keep his spot for Manchester United’s visit on Sunday .
It was Silva’s 21st club and country appearance this season, and we’re still one month away from Christmas. He played 34 times for the Blues last season, having arrived from Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.
No wonder Tuchel was furious at PSG’s decision not to offer Silva a new contract last summer and that the French club’s loss was a win for Chelsea.
It is no exaggeration to say that Silva is set to become one of the best free transfer signings in English football history. He won the Champions League in his first season with Chelsea and could easily end his second with a Premier League title.
This success against Juventus also highlighted the possibility of Chelsea retaining their Champions League crown, with the club now safely qualified for the round of 16 and likely to finish top of Group H.
Silva may not wear the captain’s armband, but he sets standards on and off the pitch for everyone around him. He quickly forged a close bond with former head coach Frank Lampard after moving to England for the first time and has been heavily supported by Tuchel since the German arrived in January.
Lampard is said to spend hours talking to Silva about the game in his office at Cobham’s training ground in Chelsea and Tuchel is also speaking with him privately.
Tuchel will recommend Silva be offered a further one-year contract extension as the former PSG coach is already convinced the former AC Milan star will not slow down before the World Cup in Qatar at Christmas next.
Silva has said playing the 2022 World Cup was a big motivation for him when he joined Chelsea for the first time and, if his physical form allows it, he will reach that goal comfortably.
Even though there comes a time later this season when Silva needs a rest or suffers an injury, Tuchel knows his influence will remain key in and around the locker room, and in the stands. Who could forget how he celebrated last season’s Champions League victory over Atletico Madrid with Jorginho and Mason Mount on the stairs of Stamford Bridge?
Silva has been used as an example of how a top professional works for some of Chelsea’s young players, Tuchel particularly impressed with the effort he puts into even the post-match running sessions when he was an unused replacement.
Considering how well he has settled into life in London with his wife Isabele, Silva’s only small regret might be that he didn’t join the Premier League earlier in his career.
But he’s making up for lost time and making sure he comes out on a high, rather than just letting his career end in any way.
Tuchel got down from his seat in the Chelsea dugout to cheer over his head after Silva moved in front of Morata to cut a long pass with his chest. Moments earlier, the defender forced Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to a header save.
Silva conserved his energy by staying in the center circle when the rest of the Chelsea squad celebrated Reece James’ goal, but couldn’t help but when Callum Hudson-Odoi killed the game with the third moments of the local team. Substitute Timo Werner scored a fourth goal.
Legendary Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci had been made to look like each of his 34 years by the bright and energetic young Chelsea academy graduates, while Silva had been masterful in his handling of the home side’s backline.
There was a late header past goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who reaffirmed Silva’s steadfast determination to keep his clean sheet even with the game won long ago. For him, age is just a number.