Ex-Chelsea star Cole: Only Van Dijk better than Thiago Slva - even at 36

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Former Chelsea star Joe Cole hailed the impact of Thiago Silva after their Champions League win at Rennes.

Despite a shaky start, the Brazilian has since settled and turned one of the league's worst defences into one of the best.

Silva was on top form again as Chelsea sealed their place in the Champions League knockout round with a 2-1 win at Rennes.

Cole told BT Sport: “He has been one of the great defenders of our generation, but at 36 you worry.

"Traditionally players at that age coming into the Premier League, it is very difficult. The Premier League is a different beast now.

“He was not fit at the start of the season and Frank did not want to throw him in.

"He needed time to get into it and now he looks like a Rolls-Royce and one of the best centre-halves in the league.

“I do not think they make centre-halves like him anymore. Apart from Van Dijk, I would say he is the best in the league. He has brought so much quality, on the pitch and off the pitch.

“For [Antonio] Rudiger, [Kurt] Zouma and [Andreas] Christensen next to him, he is a standard bearer.

“That is the level you want to get at if you want to class yourself as a world-class centre-half."