Doha (AFP) – At 34, veteran centre-back Thiago Silva has re-emerged this season as the pillar of the Paris Saint-Germain defence as the French champions prepare for an assault in Europe.
The PSG captain spoke to AFP in Qatar as his side prepares for a second half of the season in which they will resume their campaign for a long-coveted first Champions League trophy with a last-16 tie against resurgent Manchester United.
“I think I’ve already enjoyed some good times in my career,” he said, when asked about his form this season. “But at this age it is better. You always have quality, and time gives you the experience. When you put the two things together, you go up a level.”
Thiago Silva was one of the scapegoats in 2017 when PSG blew a 4-0 first-leg lead in second round against Barcelona, collapsing 6-1 as they conceded three times after the 88th minute.
“I heard a lot of things: ‘I’m not a leader, I’m not this or that’,” he said. “It wounds you, but after that it’s also the kind of thing that motivates you the most.”
– Playing for Tuchel –
The Brazilian’s refound form has come after Thomas Tuchel replaced Unai Emery as coach.
“He’s given me the tranquility to play.”
“He tries to solve problems as quickly as possible and he talks to me to discover the best solution,” he said, adding that Tuchel involves him in decision-making.
“That’s something I’ve never felt before, so I’m giving something extra.”
He pointed to a 3-0 victory away to 10-man Amiens in Ligue 1 at the start of December.
“Against Amiens, I played for him,” he said. “He suggested that I play just 45 minutes, but at the end of the first half, the score was still 0-0. I could not leave my team in that position just so I could have a rest for upcoming matches. I told him ‘I’ll play to the end.’ When the team needs me, I’m there.”
Thiago Silva agreed with suggestions that this might be the strongest PSG team since he arrived in 2012.
“It’s not only the players but the way we play,” he said. “We’re playing more as a team.”
Thiago Silva said that Tuchel’s direct and open approach to players helped explain the improved productivity of the team in general and Neymar in particular.
“He (Neymar) has understood, as everybody has understood, because these are things that you tell him to his face,” he said.
“Respect is to say things to your face and the coach does it very well, he is very strong on the technical part but especially on off-field matters, managing those who are not playing. He tries to motivate everyone to be ready. That’s the difference.”
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