Thiago Silva has already done a lot for Chelsea since joining the club last summer, but perhaps the best thing to come from his transfer is the impact it has had on Andreas Christensen.
Thrown to the side to make space for the Brazilian earlier in the season, Christensen was brought into the starting lineup back in February because of an injury to Silva, and it could not have worked out better for him.
Playing at the heart of Thomas Tuchel’s back three, Christensen has looked like a man possessed during his time in the team. He has filled in for Silva with perfection, bringing the dominance and composure that only the veteran was supposed to offer.
Tuchel now finds himself with a bit of a conundrum. Silva is back from injury and has done nothing to merit a spell on the bench, particularly given his close relationship with the boss, but how can he justify dropping Christensen?
Heading into this Saturday’s meeting with West Bromwich Albion, Christensen is on a run of over 14 hours for club and country without conceding a goal, but he hasn’t just been a passenger over that time. The Dane has been superb and has been dragging his team to clean sheet after clean sheet.
Chelsea have a lot of elite performers these days, but Christensen has to be the first name on the team sheet, regardless of who is knocking on the door.
The 24-year-old has recovered from a shaky season last year in emphatic fashion, and not only is he doing well for his sake, but Christensen is making his team-mates better. Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and even Emerson have all looked better alongside him, while Cesar Azpilicueta gets so much license to roam forwards because of his solidity at the back.
Luis Suarez, Joao Felix, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Son Heung-min are just some of the names who have come unstuck against Christensen and his bunch of merry men recently, and Tuchel cannot afford to disrupt that for the sake of it.
If Christensen is benched for Silva, expect it to be temporary. He played twice on international duty and could probably benefit from a rest, and with a big Champions League meeting with Porto on the horizon, keeping the Dane fresh may be a smart move.
However, if Christensen can play, he has to. He simply has to.
Chelsea are on the hunt for a young, experienced centre-back to take over from Silva next season and lead the team for the next decade, but they might just have stumbled upon the perfect alternative in Christensen.
Tuchel must give him the chance he deserves to prove himself capable of leading this team. If the past few weeks are anything to go by, he’s got all the tools needed to do it.
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