Frank Lampard believes Thiago Silva “absolutely walks into” the top echelon of Premier League centre-backs alongside Virgil Van Dijk and Vincent Kompany.
Chelsea boss Lampard has admitted Brazil stalwart Silva has already helped transform the Blues’ defence, following his free-transfer summer switch from Paris St Germain.
The 36-year-old has helped Chelsea rack up five consecutive clean sheets for the first time since October 2010, with new goalkeeper Edouard Mendy pulling off six shut-outs in succession himself.
Silva has already exuded calm and class in his short Stamford Bridge stint, leaving boss Lampard making favourable comparisons with league winners and defensive linchpins in Liverpool’s Van Dijk and former Manchester City star Kompany.
“In terms of the career he’s had, of course he’s in that bracket, he absolutely walks into that bracket of top centre-backs that includes those players like Van Dijk and Kompany,” said Lampard.
“The teams who have achieved in the recent modern day have individuals or pairings that set those kinds of standards, it’s imperative, and we know the importance of defending well to try to win trophies, particularly Premier League titles.
“But they do also need support behind them, around them, in front of them.
“When you look at the performances of Thiago in his early games, the impact I keep talking about him having, he can be a big deal for us.
“But we need a lot more than that, of course, we need a lot more, so I don’t want to crown him with anything now.
“Thiago’s influence has been huge; even without the language his professionalism has been very clear, that rubs off on players, they respect him.
“His performances have been very, very good. He manages himself, he trains well, he prepares well, it’s very obvious from him and understandable why he’s had the amazing career he’s had so far.
“And it’s been great to have him as part of the squad.
“I think players look up to him in how he goes about his daily business and how he performs.
“It’s great for younger players, every player in the squad.
“It’s certainly a pleasure to coach and manage a player with that much intensity in wanting to perform at the highest level.
“Even his age doesn’t feel a big deal. We’re managing him slightly, but when you look at his performances and how he trains, it’s just been a real positive story so far.
“Long may it continue not just for him but for the influence he has on the team.”
Chelsea will host Sheffield United in Saturday’s Premier League encounter, with Spain goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga fit again after shoulder trouble.
Senegal international Mendy should continue with the gloves but the Blues must again do without Christian Pulisic.
The USA forward suffered hamstring damage in the warm-up and was withdrawn from Chelsea’s 3-0 Premier League win at Burnley.
The 22-year-old had tentatively returned to training earlier this week, but now Blues boss Lampard has admitted Chelsea are still looking to solve Pulisic’s problem.
Asked if Pulisic would be involved against the Blades, Lampard said: “No, he’s not fit to play; he’s still suffering with his hamstring.
“He’s not training at the moment. He trained at a low level in midweek but he wasn’t comfortable, so we have to keep looking for the right solution.
“Kepa has recovered, he’s still getting a slight bit of pain but he’s in the squad.”
Kai Havertz missed Wednesday’s 3-0 Champions League win over Rennes after testing positive for Covid-19 and will also sit out the weekend’s league match.
The Germany playmaker now faces a wait to discover whether he will be able to be involved in his country’s upcoming fixtures.
Asked if Havertz will be able to link up with the Germany squad, Lampard said: “I don’t know that, we have to wait until he’s symptom-free first of all.
“And then when he takes his test, we’ll have to try for him to return a negative test.
“So at the minute it’s not decided, it’s not clear.”