Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Jonathan Woodgate were practically mesmerised by Thiago Silva after the veteran defender helped Chelsea beat Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.
The Blues booked their place in the FA Cup semi-finals with a routine 2-0 win at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
Romelu Lukaku and Hakim Ziyech both scored first-half goals for Thomas Tuchel’s side but Lineker, Shearer and Woodgate reserved a large majority of their praise for Silva.
Silva has been a mainstay in Chelsea’s team over the past two seasons, helping the west London club win the Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup since his move from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2020.
Former England striker Lineker joked that Silva, 37, could play well into his 50s while Woodgate said he felt ‘lucky’ to watch the Brazilian live after he cruised through the FA Cup tie at Boro.
Premier League legend Shearer, meanwhile, said ‘class act’ Silva is ‘two or three seconds ahead of everyone’ else on the pitch.
Chelsea became the first team to qualify for the FA Cup semi-finals this weekend, with Manchester City, Liverpool, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Everton and Nottingham Forest looking to join the Blues in the draw.
Gary Lineker: ‘Thiago Silva was given Man of the Match, he makes the game look so easy. The way he plays, he could play until he’s 58!’
Jonathan Woodgate: ‘He had a pair of slippers on he was that good. He’s so focused, so calm on the ball, intercepts, reads the game. It was an outstanding performance. I feel lucky to watch him live, 37 years old, still playing. He played on Wednesday night and he’s just played again today! He’s magnificent. Doesn’t give the ball away.’
Alan Shearer: ‘We say Mason Mount is two or three seconds ahead of everyone, well he [Silva] is the same in the defensive situations. He seems to know and read and understand where that ball is going to go the second before the forward does. And the number of times he can nip in in front because he anticipates it.’
GL: ‘And you very rarely see him on his backside, do you? I know that sounds daft, but a lot of defenders it’s last-ditch, sliding tackles, they’re committing themselves. But he’s always on his feet.’
JW: ‘That’s what the top defenders do. He senses danger, he’s ahead of the game, he’s two moves ahead, he plays it like a game of chess. He knows exactly what he has to do in that exact minute and he’s been a fantastic signing for Chelsea – a free transfer as well!’
AS: ‘A lot of the moves start with him because he’s not afraid to have the ball and can handle it under pressure. Therefore he then expects the same of his teammates, he can then give them the ball under pressure. He’s just a class act.’
Meanwhile, Tuchel praised his Chelsea team after they brushed aside Middlesbrough and insisted the players cannot afford to show any ‘self-pity’ despite the uncertainty surrounding Stamford Bridge.
The Blues are looking for new owners after Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government as part of its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Tuchel said: ‘The players have impressed me. At one point we had to accept we didn’t cause the situation and we cannot influence the situation no matter what we do and how much we talk about it.
‘We had to find a certain level of accepting the situation and focusing on what we can influence, which is our performance.
‘I feel the responsibility. We are concerned that there are seven or eight hundred people working at Chelsea and a lot of people worried more maybe existentially.
‘It is my responsibility and everybody’s responsibility to show the right spirit, to show positivity and not go into self pity and worry about a situation we did not cause and cannot change.’