FC Porto defender Pepe was full of praise for Chelsea defender Thiago Silva and said he is looking forward to meeting the “five-star” defender ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash.
In the pre-match press conference on Tuesday, Mateo Kovacic, who played alongside Pepe at Real Madrid, spoke about the fighting spirit Pepe can bring to his team.
The 38-year-old is at the latter stage of his career but is still an important player for the Portuguese side and is expected to start against Chelsea tomorrow.
Chelsea also have their own experienced centre-back in Silva who has also been as important to the Blues as Pepe is to Porto.
Pepe even considers Silva as one of the big reasons why Chelsea are such tough opponents to play against.
“I know how difficult it’s going to be,” the Portugal international told TNT Sports Brasil.
“They signed Thiago Silva on a free transfer, and he’s a player that already proved himself at Milan, and he also spent time here at Porto, a very competitive player.”
Pepe also mentioned that, because Silva is a close friend of his former Real Madrid teammate Marcelo, they have already met and spoken a lot in Madrid before.
“He is a person for whom I have respect, I like him, he is a five-star player,” he added.
“He’s had a brilliant career, at both clubs he’s played for and with the national team.
“He left PSG for Chelsea because he wanted to seek another challenge for his career.
“Despite his age, having that stimulus says a lot about what he is as a person and as a player.
“He wants to compete, to win and that’s how he’s always been in his career.
“I hope to meet him, he’s someone I like.”
It remains unclear whether Silva will start against Porto, however.
While he had plenty of rest after his first-half dismissal in Saturday’s defeat to West Brom, the Brazil international has just recently returned from a two-month absence due to a muscle injury.
Keeping the 36-year-old fitness in check will be crucial for the remainder of the season.
Bear in mind, Chelsea have now dropped out of the Premier League top four after West Ham’s victory at Wolves on Monday.
Thomas Tuchel could opt for Andreas Christensen, who was superb at the back during Silva’s absence, for the Porto game.
Although, Silva’s suspension for the weekend’s trip to Crystal Palace means the Denmark international will likely be needed soon anyway.