Frank Lampard believes Thiago Silva can provide the leadership and quality Chelsea have been missing at centre-back since John Terry left the club in 2017.
The 35-year-old Brazilian joined on a free transfer from Paris St-Germain this summer, a noteable departure from the policy of recruiting young talent – such as left-back Ben Chilwell, attacking midfielders Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech and striker Timo Werner.
Asked if the Blues were without a defensive leader last season, Lampard said: “I think so.”
“Leaders like John Terry are not very common,” he told told BBC’s Friday Football Special.
“It probably was something we missed – a vocal presence at the back.
“When you have a quiet team who don’t want to talk it is very hard sometimes.
“We work on it but I hope Thiago will bring it naturally. He has generally been captain of the team he has played in and had a lot of success.
“When I watched him in the run up to the Champions League final he looked fit, he looked hungry and the conversations that I have had with him have been the same.”
Former Chelsea winger, now respected pundit, Pat Nevin, told West London Sport that improving defensively is vital this season.
Antonio Rudger, Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen all made more than 20 Premier League appearances last season, with Fikayo Tomori also starting 15 league matches.
“Everyone knows the centre-back thing has not been sorted out yet. Frank knows that, ” said Nevin, who played for Chelsea from 1983-1988.
“It’s obvious. He has used all his centre-backs but has changed it all the time so it’s not quite right.
“Thiago Silva coming in is interesting. If you look at his figures over the past couple of years they are good.
“There are very few mistakes in him. He plays well over 30 games a season even though he is the age he is.”
Nevin can also fully understand why comparisons have been made with Chelsea’s long-serving captain Terry.
‘The best of his generation’
Nevin said: “Thiago Silva doesn’t completely rely on pace. If he was a pace merchant, you would be scared to death in case it suddenly disappeared at his age because that does happen with some centre-backs.
“Every centre-half, from Vincent Kompany to Rio Ferdinand, when the pace goes it’s curtains but that’s not the case with certain players, like John Terry.
“He never had that much pace; he always used his brain and that is what Thiago Silva has got.
“He will teach the lads around him. But he is not the long-term solution. We all know that so that is an area they are still looking at.
“John Terry was one of the best centre-backs in the world and Thiago Silva is arguably the best centre-back of his generation.
“Style-wise they are quite different. Thiago Silva is more refined in his play than JT. His ability with the ball at his feet is fantastic
“He played nine games in the Champions League this season going all the way to the final and he only gave away four free-kicks in the entire tournament.
“This is a guy who plays with his head, like Alan Hansen used to do. There are some players that can do that so and that is the kind of guy we are getting.
“All of the centre-backs are capable of learning a lot of Thiago Silva. They need to look and learn from him and his positioning and experience.
“Centre-backs don’t generally peak until they are in their late 20s. But nearly everybody in the league is trying to get a good centre-back pairing.”