Thomas Tuchel has dropped the biggest hint yet that Thiago Silva will extend his Chelsea contract beyond this summer.
Brazil defender Silva has always looked likely to extend his one-year deal, almost from the moment he stepped into Stamford Bridge last summer.
But the 36-year-old’s situation was naturally put on hold when Chelsea installed Tuchel as manager to replace Frank Lampard in January.
Silva’s performances remain of the highest quality, and Tuchel has hailed the evergreen centre-back’s youthful exuberance that should see him extend his west London stay.
The injured Silva and suspended duo Mason Mount and Jorginho enjoyed raucous celebrations in the Stamford Bridge stands as Chelsea saw off Atletico Madrid 2-0 on Wednesday to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
“About his contract it’s too early and not the surrounding now to speak about it,” said Tuchel.
“It’s between him and the club, and me and the club, we will take this decision together.
“But if you watch the celebration pictures carefully you will see how young he looks.
“He was running up and down the stairs, he was dressed like a 28-year-old.
“So I think there’s still a way to go.”
Chelsea’s 3-0 aggregate win over Atletico has booked a quarter-final against Porto, while Tuchel’s unbeaten start with the Blues is now a club record 13 matches.
“I’ve known Thiago now for many years, we had a fantastic partnership at Paris St Germain,” said Tuchel.
“He was an absolutely reliable partner as captain for me as a coach from the first minute I stepped in.
“Once he is part of the team he is 100 per cent part of the team, 100 per cent professional and he’s a very emotional guy.
“All three of them, Mason, Jorginho and Thiago, were totally involved in the game, and I can only repeat that makes the group special in the moment.
“I heard them during the match coaching, taking care to support the players. And I felt the same thing for example from Willy Caballero and Kepa (Arrizabalaga) from the bench.
“And if we want to have special results, and if we want to have special moments we need to play with a special atmosphere.
“This does not change in football, not at the highest level and not in the park round the corner.
“And this is what football can do, and to create an atmosphere like this, you can totally reply on Thiago. He absolutely sees himself as a team player, he lives for the team that he plays for.
“When he’s in the stands he suffers. And he was so, so happy for Emerson (Palmieri) to score the second goal against Atletico, with the other guys.”
Chelsea will host Sheffield United in Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final. Silva is still not ready to return after a thigh injury but Tuchel hopes that striker Tammy Abraham will be fit for selection after ankle trouble.
He said: “Now is not the moment to take the risk for Thiago, in the last game before the international break. Now we get the chance to win another two weeks recovery with him.
“Hopefully he’ll join the group in the international break and be ready after that.
“Tammy was with the group today, he had a little bit of a scary moment because he stumbled again and twisted his ankle, a painful moment, but hopefully he can be back in the squad for Sunday.”