The Chelsea defender has picked out the 10 forwards that have given him the toughest time down the years, with a star-studded cast lined up
Roberto Firmino, Didier Drogba, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo all figure on Thiago Silva’s list of toughest opponents, with the Chelsea defender piecing together a top 10 of fearsome foes.
At 36 years of age, the veteran Brazilian centre-half has regularly found himself lining up against some of the best forwards in the business.
He has fared admirably against plenty, earning himself a standing among the global elite, but admits that star turns from Liverpool to Barcelona via Inter and Real Madrid have posed him problems.
What has been said?
On a couple of fellow countrymen currently gracing the books at Anfield and Paris Saint-Germain, Silva told Chelsea TV: “Firmino, he has incredible technical quality. He is very intelligent in his movements [on the pitch] that leaves defenders a bit lost.
“Neymar because of his class, intelligence and magic. He is a player that impresses me with his technical quality and his ability to create out of nowhere.”
He added on two more compatriots who once terrorised opposition defences: “Romario because of his intelligence in the box. He’s the best I’ve seen in the box.
“Adriano, like Drogba, he’s an incredible physical force with an unbelievable powerful left-foot penalty shot.”
Silva said of a Chelsea icon who went before him at Stamford Bridge: “Drogba because of his physical strength, despite being incredibly strong, he still has a lot of technical skill.”
He went on to say of three former colleagues at Parc des Princes: “[Angel] Di Maria because of his technical quality and his incredible left foot.
“[Kylian] Mbappe because of his speed and also his technical quality.
“I’m going to say Ibrahimovic because he is a guy that inspired me and I think he has inspired many kids to inspire what they are doing.
“He was a black belt (in MMA) before he became a footballer and then after he found himself in football. He’s a guy that I admire a lot. I had the chance to play with and against him.”
Who else made Silva’s list?
Any run down of the most fearsome frontmen in world football would not be complete without a couple of modern-day greats that have won the Ballon d’Or 11 times between them.
Silva has faced Messi and Ronaldo down the years, with a mercurial Argentine on the books at Barcelona considered to be the pick of those he has tried to contain.
“Cristiano because of his professionalism, his dedication and passion for football. He is a guy I really admire for his commitment and for everything he has achieved,” said Silva.
He added on another all-time great: “Messi, because he has incredible quality and a God-given gift and because of the professional he is. For me he is the best.”
The bigger picture
Silva continues to test himself on the grandest of stages in the Premier League and Champions League with Chelsea, while also making himself available to add to the 93 caps he has won for Brazil.
He has not figured for the Blues since February 4, after picking up a thigh injury, but will hope to return to Thomas Tuchel’s plans soon as domestic and continental prizes are chased down at Stamford Bridge.