Rafael Leao has heaped praise on Chelsea No.5 Thiago Silva after he was asked to name his toughest opponent.
The Portugal international shared the quotes when speaking to Football Italia.
What’s the story?
Well, the AC Milan No.17 said: “Toughest opponent?, Thiago Silva, an experienced player who has quality and understands the space well, he is a smart player, that’s the right word.”
Leao certainly seemed to struggle up against the Brazil international in the Champions League Group Stage this season.
The 23-year-old faced off against Silva twice in Group E, failing to score in both games as Chelsea recorded a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge and then a 2-0 victory at the San Siro.
It speaks volumes that a 38-year-old has been named by Leao as his toughest opponent, as the rapid AC Milan wonderkid has been among the best players in Europe this season.
For Silva to still be right up there with Europe’s best at his age is testament to his professionalism and sheer ability.
The Portuguese sensation has scored 14 goals while also providing 15 assists in 46 appearances across all competitions.
Many would have expected Leao to cause Silva some issues with his pace, directness and upper body strength earlier this season, but the South American used his experience expertly to keep AC Milan’s talisman quiet.
Chelsea could lose Thiago Silva
Sadly, Mauricio Pochettino may not get the chance to work with Silva next season.
A story from Extra Globo in Brazil claimed that the centre-back wants to return to his homeland at the end of the current campaign.
Therefore, Silva’s future at Stamford Bridge is in doubt with only 12 months remaining on his contract.
Hopefully, the Rio de Janeiro-born leader sticks around, as Pochettino could certainly use an experienced head like him next season as he gets to grips with Chelsea’s young squad.