Thiago Silva and David Luiz: Brazil’s perfect couple

The Rio Report

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Photo via Extra Globo

During last summer’s Confederations Cup, one image provided some light relief from the scenes of police brutality and looting that marked the more troublesome side of the protests throughout Brazil. It showed two children – one with an enigmatic pout, the other with extravagant curly hair – sitting on the bonnet of a car. The former was a dead ringer for Thiago Silva; the latter looked just enough like David Luiz for the picture to go viral.

The pair (of footballers, not their look-alikes) will once again be in the spotlight this summer. Firstly because they form the solid base upon which Brazil’s World Cup campaign will be built, but now also for another reason: David Luiz is believed to be close to signing for French champions Paris Saint-Germain, meaning their partnership will be replicated at club level.

In many ways, they make for an odd couple. On a personal level, at least, the two could hardly be more different: Thiago Silva is quiet and reserved, preferring to do his talking on the pitch, while David Luiz adores the spotlight, rarely forgoing the chance to speak his mind or share his personal life online. You get the sense that, if they met one another in street in a world without football, they would probably not have a great deal to talk about.

On the field, however, they dovetail wonderfully. Theirs is a gloriously instinctive division of labour: Thiago intercepts, David makes the last-ditch interventions; Thiago leads by example, David shouts himself hoarse; Thiago spreads calm, David energises. The whole is greater than its two contrasting parts.

That dynamic is not lost on the pair, who happily acknowledge the strength of their parternship. “We understand each other so well that we know what to do without looking at each other,” David Luiz told Placar magazine in October. “When Thiago bails me out after a mistake, I feel I have a duty to repay him – on the field or off it.”

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One such intervention came in the Confederations Cup final against Spain. With Thiago Silva caught out of position, Juan Mata fed Pedro, who placed his shot past Júlio César, only for David Luiz to make a stunning goal-line clearance. The Brazil players celebrated as if they had scored a goal.

On other occasions, a withering look is worth a thousand words. “After I made that error against Uruguay [allowing Edinson Cavani to score in the semi-final], I could see that he was cursing me,” Thiago Silva said after the tournament. “I saw his face and understood everything.”

It is this sort of unspoken understanding that PSG are investing in. Having already broken the world record transfer fee for a defender when they signed Thiago Silva for €42million in 2012, they look set to break the bank once more, with a fee of £50million or more mooted on this occasion.

That, evidently, is a sizeable investment for a 27-year-old prone to the odd lapse in concentration, particularly as they already have Marquinhos, seen by many as a future Brazil regular, on their books. But really, Les Parisiens are paying for a partnership – one that, in the last two years especially, has proved to be one of the most frugal international football.

And one that, if things go to plan for Brazil this summer, will start next season as World Cup winners. The chance to unite that kind of perfect couple for club as well as country doesn’t come around too often.

Jack Lang (On Twitter: @snap_kaka_pop)

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