Chelsea set eyes on free Thiago Silva replacement amid exit 'decision' admission

Fulham's Tosin Adarabioyo and Chelsea's Cole Palmer during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Fulham FC at Stamford Bridge on January 13, 2024 in London, England.
Fulham centre-back Tosin Adarabioyo could find himself on the other side of West London next season as Chelsea look to find a replacement for the outgoing Thiago Silva. -Credit:Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images

With the announcement last week that Thiago Silva would leave Chelsea after four years with the club, the inevitable had finally come to pass. Now they have to fill the void.

While Mauricio Pochettino certainly has capable central defenders at his disposal, most if not all have struggled at times this season with Silva arguably being the most consistent of them all. Axel Disasi and Benoit Badiashile are new arrivals who, to their credit, have managed to settle in fairly well while Levi Colwill showed promise over the first half of the season, with Trevoh Chalobah's future up in the air.

But there will be the necessity to replace 'O Monstro', whose leadership, charisma and experience will not be easy to replicate through anyone at the club. Having consistently signed one-year extensions to his contract with the club over the last few seasons, it's been touch-and-go as to whether Silva would stay at Chelsea each and every summer for a while, meaning the club would've been checking in and out of the centre-back market each window to see what was on offer.

Now with confirmation that he will leave the club, it's time to get down to business - something the Blues have either struck gold with or panned nothing but silt since the arrival of Todd Boehly and Clearlake. However, according to Sky Italy journalist Fabrizio Romano, Pochettino could have his targets locked on Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo as a potential replacement for Silva next season who is set to leave the Cottagers as a free agent this summer.

The 26-year-old has been one of the constants in an up-and-down Fulham side this campaign under Marco Silva, who earlier this week admitted that the star 'probably' won't be playing at Craven Cottage next year after leaving him out of the squad for their 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace last month and their 0-0 draw against Brentford on Saturday.

When asked about Adarabioyo's current contract situation on Friday, Fulham boss Silva claimed: "Last weekend my decision was a technical decision. I know all the noise around him and his future of course.

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"Of course I have been speaking to him, I have a really close relationship like with all the players and everything is clear between myself and him, like all the other players, and from him to me and my staff as well. If Tosin is going to be on the pitch he's going to be on the pitch, he's going to be in the squad if I'm going decide for him to be in the squad. Nothing has changed from last week.

"When it starts to come, the news that he's not going to be with us next season, I know what he told me, I prefer to keep that between us. Of course, that's a decision from the player. But apart from that Tosin is ready to play or to be in the squad if I decide for him to be there."

Having joined Fulham in 2020 after spending 17 years as part of Manchester City's youth academy, Adarabioyo originally missed the first three months of the season after undergoing groin surgery in August - something which might worry Blues supporters given their track record with player issues so far this season.

The former England youth international has also been linked with Newcastle and a number of other clubs in recent days, but Silva made it clear that the club had tried all options to keep him.

Continuing, he added: "Tosin has to be clear about his future when he decides to be clear about his future, and he has to talk about it. Of course we are here to try to prepare as best we can the future of the football club.

"We haven't hidden that situation that we try to renew with him, not just him but other players near the end of their contracts and it's not been easy. Probably his future is not going to be at the club any more. About that situation, if one day Tosin wants to speak he's going to speak."