One of the biggest talking points of this recent international break has been the decision of Brazil coach Dunga to remove the captaincy from Selecao defender Thiago Silva and hand it to star man Neymar.
The decision was actually taken during Dunga’s first international matches in charge. It has only now become an issue because Silva has returned to duty with his country after a hamstring injury kept him out of action earlier this season.
The Paris Saint-Germain captain made it clear that he is not happy with the decision made by his new coach and expressed his disappointment that Barcelona star and close friend Neymar did not speak with him about the change.
Silva, Dunga and Neymar have all spoken publicly about the issue and apparently patched things up, but it became clear in the Turkey and Austria friendly victories that the PSG man is not necessarily a part of the Brazilian tactician’s first-choice starting XI.
The 30-year-old started on the bench in both matches with Atletico Madrid’s Miranda preferred to him in central defence alongside PSG teammate David Luiz.
Although the case is now closed publicly, per ESPN FC’s Fernando Duarte, Silva could find himself out of the squad again come the first international break in 2015.
While his status in the Brazilian national team is under scrutiny and his credentials as captain at club and international level are debated, he remains an indispensable player for PSG.
Since returning from injury in October, Silva has had an immediate impact on Laurent Blanc’s back line.
In the five games played with the South American restored to his place at the heart of the defence, alongside compatriot Luiz, Les Parisiens have only conceded one goal and have kept four clean sheets.
Silva’s return has had a reassuring impact upon the side, particularly at the back, where they were short of organisation and decisiveness without him. At present, they look much stronger than they did at the beginning of the season, but Blanc is now faced with a headache.
He has Silva and Luiz in excellent form, but young Brazilian Marquinhos was also fantastic alongside the latter until a thigh injury curtailed some immense progress at the start of the campaign.
When all three are fit, Le President is spoiled for choice. However, when the trio are available, Silva and Luiz have an immediate advantage over their young protege.
Blanc could move Luiz forward into defensive midfield in order to accommodate Marquinhos alongside Silva, but he has so far been reluctant to do so. The PSG No. 2’s excellent form since returning to action has made the Frenchman’s team selections somewhat problematic, though.
Despite the issue surrounding his loss of the Brazil captaincy and the circumstances surrounding it, Silva’s importance to the French champions should not be underestimated. The former AC Milan man remains vital to the team, while rarely—if ever—facing the same level of pressure with PSG that he was confronted with when the Selecao attempted to win the World Cup on home soil.
The Parisien skipper is a positive influence on his teammates and handles his responsibilities well and with maturity, and it would be unfair for him to lose his captaincy of the French giants because of what has happened at international level.
Silva broke under immense pressure at the World Cup, which was understandable in many ways because of the massive expectations placed upon the side by their home fans. Even if cracking under such stress was understandable, though, so too was Dunga’s desire to paint an image of a strong Brazil after they were thoroughly broken by their semi-final mauling at the hands of Germany.
In order for that to happen, Silva had to be replaced. However, the issue could clearly have been handled better by all concerned parties.
The issue of the Brazil captaincy aside, Silva is not a poor leader because of what happened in Brazil this summer. He has proved with PSG that he can command a star-studded team and have a positive influence on them, even if Zlatan Ibrahimovic is perhaps the spiritual leader of the squad.
If Silva is to be marginalised even further by Dunga because of this recent outburst, that will be to PSG’s advantage because he will remain in top condition and run less chance of getting injured in the future.
Considering how injury prone he has been in the past few seasons, this will be good news for Blanc.