Chelsea news as Thiago Silva makes his feelings clear after missing out on Champions League football for the first time in his career
Chelsea defender Thiago Silva has sent a message as the Champions League gets up and running for the season. With the Blues not in the competition for the first time since 2018 it is somewhat of a reality check for the new owners.
Despite spending over £1billion on new transfers and overseeing one of the most ambitious squad overhauls in the history of the game results haven’t followed and a 12th placed finish in their first full season saw Chelsea end the year in a different postcode to any European places. Although new manager Mauricio Pochettino believes it might be a blessing in disguise the club are staring down the barrel of consecutive seasons out of the top four.
It hasn’t been since 2002 that Chelsea last failed to finish in the top four twice in a row but a disappointing start to life under Pochettino in terms of results has seen them stranded early on. The Argentine head coach has only been able to pick up five points from his opening five league games, leaving them 14th in the table and already eight points adrift of their rivals at the top.
There is still a long way to go though and Chelsea will soon be welcoming back a host of key stars from injury that will increase readily available quality and depth for Pochettino. The lack of midweek fixtures also poses as a chance for the former Tottenham manager to work more with his group on the training ground.
“With the circumstances, of course, I think [no Champions League] is better for us because we have 11 or 12 players injured,” he said when asked about working with more time. “And I think it shows with the squad at the moment. I think we only have 14 or 15 players. I think it’s important that we can recover the players and be competitive.”
“Of course with the history of Chelsea, we need to be involved in European competition but that is not in my hands now, that is the reality.” Pochettino has the youngest squad in the league and has had his hands tied in the opening six weeks for selection on the field.
Now though, with the return of European action to the schedule and to the TVs of supporters, it is a stark reality check. Chelsea have only missed out on playing Champions League football twice in the past 20 years and have often bounced back quickly from other lowerly finishes.
The response to last season appears unlikely to be as pronounced due to the stage of development that most of the players are at though and it has left Silva, who turns 39 later this week, to send a damning message online. Tweeting ahead of Newcastle’s clash with former team AC Milan at San Siro on Tuesday night, Silva wrote: “@ChampionsLeague [crying face emoji].”
It’s the first time since he started playing football in Europe 13 years ago as a 25-year-old that Silva has been out of the competition. He finally became a winner at the second attempt at a final in 2021 under Thomas Tuchel but now faces the prospect of having played his last game in the tournament.
Silva has a one-year deal at Stamford Bridge which is far from certain to be extended another 12 months. If that is to be the case then he will end on a remarkable 123 appearances, a figure that only 17 outfield players have passed. Meanwhile, as Silva ends the final years of his career watching the Champions League from a distance, London rivals Arsenal are back in the mix for the first time since 2017.
It is a killer blow for Chelsea supporters that have prided themselves on strong European campaigns given their history. The Blues have reached three finals, winning two and have been a strong contender for quarter-final spots ever since Silva arrived in 2020. The drop-off has been big though and many have been catapulted into uncertainty over when they will be back on the biggest stage.
Pochettino has promised fans that the club will be back in Europe at some level next season though and it might offer Silva another glimmer of hope that there’s a final chapter to be written. “In our hands now is to work and to try and be in there next season,” the 51-year-old said defiantly. “For sure we are going to be in European competition next season.”