Who is the best defender in world football? It is a question that is commonly debated in pubs and bars across Europe, with supporters of various sides keen to promote their own players.
Vincent Kompany, Giorgio Chiellini and Mats Hummels, in particular, are outstanding defenders. But, there is one player who stands above all others—Paris Saint-Germain's Thiago Silva.
While his arrival may have been overshadowed by that of the mercurial Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it is the Brazilian who will be the more important long-term addition.
The Parisian side and, in particular, director of football Leonardo Araujo staked their reputation and a substantial sum of money to secure Thiago Silva—it was an unusual move to pursue a defender quite so vigorously.
Their faith has immediately been rewarded, with the French side sailing to a first Ligue 1 title since the 1990s, as well as a fine performance in the UEFA Champions League.
In quarterfinal exit to Barcelona, PSG came remarkably close to a major shock—with the excellence of Thiago Silva a major contributing factor to their showing in the Camp Nou.
He was everywhere: blocking shots, intercepting through-balls and clearing nearly any ball into the area. It was a display that had even vocal critic Joey Barton eating his words—at least for a short time. (101 Great Goals)
It is not just in defence, though, that the Brazil captain excels. He is also a wonderful player with the ball at his feet, showing remarkable composure to get on the ball more than any of his defensive colleagues and still average an incredible 89.5 percent pass completion. (WhoScored)
Twice voted a member of the UEFA Team of the Year and the best Brazilian footballer in Europe, it is clear that he his held in great regard by his peers and supporters alike.
To watch Thiago Silva in action, it is impossible not to be impressed by the calm and composure he brings to the game.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti has called his defender "the best in the world" (Sambafoot), while club great Alain Roche hailed the Brazilian as "the Lionel Messi of defenders." (MadeInFoot) It is lavish praise, but there are few who would disagree.
Thiago Silva will lead Brazil into the 2014 World Cup as one of just a couple of truly world class players in the Selecao setup. What is true, though, is that nobody will dare to write off the tournament hosts completely, and the defender's presence will be a major reason for that thinking.
A physically strong player, Thiago beats opponents in his head. He has an innate ability to read the game quicker than those around him and the technical abilities to match that speed of thought.
It is a combination that only the very best defenders can match—the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Nesta spring to mind in recent years.
At 28 years old, he has several more years ahead of him at the very pinnacle of the game, but there should be no doubting that Thiago Silva is already a modern great.
Now, to truly write his name among the best of all-time, he must lead either PSG to a major continental title or see Brazil lift the World Cup.
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