Chelsea’s Thiago Silva is the second best defender in the Premier League behind Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, according to former England midfielder Joe Cole.
Silva has quickly become a regular under Frank Lampard and has impressed during his first few months at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea keeping three clean sheets in four top-flight games when Silva has played the full 90 minutes.
Concerns were voiced over the 36-year-old’s ability to perform in the physical and fast-paced Premier League during the latter stages of his career, but Cole believes that Silva is already up there with the best centre-backs in English football.
Speaking to BT Sport, Cole said: “He has been one of the great defenders of our generation, but at 36 you worry. Traditionally players at that age coming into the Premier League, it is very difficult. The Premier League is a different beast now.
“He was not fit at the start of the season and Frank did not want to throw him in. He needed time to get into it and now he looks like a Rolls Royce and one of the best centre-halves in the league.
“I do not think they make centre-halves like him anymore. Apart from Van Dijk, I would say he is the best in the League. He has brought so much quality, on the pitch and off the pitch.
“For [Antonio] Rudiger, [Kurt] Zouma and [Andreas] Christensen next to him, he is a standard bearer. That is the level you want to get at if you want to class yourself as a world-class centre-half.”
Silva returned to the Chelsea lineup against Rennes, where the Blues ensured qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League with a dramatic 2-1 victory at Roazhon Park.