Still regarded as one of the finest defenders to feature for Milan, and that is some category, Thiago Silva has been linked with a possible return.
The now 35-year-old spent three seasons with us between 2009 and 2012, winning a Serie A title and Italian Super Cup during our last successful spell.
Silva made 119 appearances for the club during that stint, and although it was all too brief before he left to join Paris Saint-Germain, the class with which he marshalled the backline during those three years made an indelible impression.
He’s shown that quality in the French capital since, making 30 or more appearances in each campaign he’s been with the Parisian giants while winning 20 domestic trophies.
Now though, there is a decision to be made. With his current contract set to expire this summer, his agent has seemingly left the door open to a possible reunion with Milan.
“In football everything is possible, but we have to wait to see what will happen because of the pandemic. He has a great admiration for Milan, those were years that marked his career. He knows about the great affection of the fans,” his agent Paulo Tonietto told MilanNews.
Key issues which could stop deal
Let’s start with two reasons why this move may not happen. Silva turns 36 in September and given what he’s likely to have been earning at PSG, he could yet demand a sizeable contract despite his age.
Milan are expected to focus on youth, just as they have done for the most part since Elliott took control of the club, and lowering the wage bill was seemingly the mandate in January with a string of significant exits.
The trend was bucked for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but it’s questionable if the Milan management are going to make a habit of it moving forward. That in turn could scupper any hope of a reunion this summer.
Silva can still be a valuable asset
Assuming that a deal can be agreed on favourable terms though, there is still sense in exploring the possibility of Silva returning for a second stint at Milan.
Captain Alessio Romagnoli is a permanent fixture on the left side of the centre-half pairing and after years of new partnerships and teammates coming and going, we’re still searching for a reliable figure to slot in next to him.
At 35, Silva isn’t going to be a long-term solution and he will arguably struggle to feature as heavily as he once did. Nevertheless, having that option to come in and add experience, solidity and calmness to the backline alongside Romagnoli could be a game changer in itself if he can prove he still has life left in his legs.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of any return though would be his impact on Matteo Gabbia. As per La Gazzetta dello Sport, the 20-year-old is being tipped to be Romagnoli’s defensive partner moving forward, but he still has to mature and gain experience before reaching his full potential and who better than to learn from Silva in training day in and day out.
With Mateo Musacchio’s agent raising question marks about his future at Milan, as noted by MilanNews, while a decision is needed on Simon Kjaer as his current loan deal will end this summer, there could be an initial clear-out in defence to make space for Silva.
We’ve seen how Rafael Leao and others have taken to Ibrahimovic and tried to soak up as much knowledge and guidance as possible, it would surely be no different for Gabbia with Silva, while if Leo Duarte stays, he would no doubt relish the opportunity to learn from his compatriot to make the necessary improvements to his game too.
If Milan can agree on personal terms that work within the salary framework and limits, bringing Silva back for a year at least could provide us with a short-term boost and at least 12 months of invaluable mentorship for Gabbia and Duarte to prepare to step up when he moves on.
Admittedly, it’s difficult to put sentiment aside when discussing a player like Silva given how influential and frankly brilliant he was last time round. However, even removing that from the equation, there’s enough to be convinced that he would still be a smart addition ahead of next season.
Presuming this will be one of the most one-sided polls I do, but…
Thiago Silva. A return this summer?#ForzaMilan 🔴⚫️
— Milan Talk (@MilanTalk1) February 20, 2020