x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Champions League: A Silva lining in Valencia match for Carlo Ancelotti

The most expensive defender of the last decade should make his return to the Paris Saint-Germain line-up against Valencia, and not a moment too soon for PSG manager Carlos Ancelotti, explains Ian Hawkey.

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian defender Thiago Silva arrives for a training session on March 5. His return will bolster Carlo Ancelotti's side as they face Valencia in their Uefa Champions League round of 16 second leg match.
Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian defender Thiago Silva arrives for a training session on March 5. His return will bolster Carlo Ancelotti's side as they face Valencia in their Uefa Champions League round of 16 second leg match.

The most expensive defender of the last decade should make his return to the Paris Saint-Germain line-up against Valencia on Wednesday night, and in the absence of other notable imports from the high-spending recent recruitment drive by the French Ligue 1 leaders, that will be a relief for the manager Carlo Ancelotti.

Ancelotti once compared Thiago Silva, the 28-year-old Brazilian signed from AC Milan for around €42 million (Dh197.4m) last summer, with Franco Baresi, the distinguished former Milan and Italy centre-back. Ancelotti knows that if PSG are to build a Champions League-winning squad, individuals of that calibre are a necessity.

Silva has been out with injury since the second week of January, and although PSG's medical staff considered him ready for action in their past two outings, in the cup against Marseille and in the league against Reims, no risks were taken given the importance of the second leg of their tie against Valencia.

That the Reims trip resulted in a second loss in the past three league matches has made the longing for Silva's authority more urgent.

Without him in the team, PSG have conceded six goals in 10 games. In the previous 10, a PSG with their commanding pillar in defence let in just three.

He is likeliest to play alongside compatriots Alex and left-back Maxwell on Wednesday night.

Silva created some controversy earlier in the season by stating his preference for a central defensive partnership with Alex, once of Chelsea, rather than with Mamadou Sakho, PSG's France defender. His opinions have weight, and Ancelotti hears them, even if he is not obliged to obey.

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