The imminent arrival of Thiago Silva at Chelsea is set to herald the signing of yet another golden veteran moving to the Premier League. A host of older stars have headed to these shores, desperate to defy both their advancing ages and any doubters, with the Paris Saint-Germain defender poised to join them.

It is understood that Chelsea are already very close to sealing the move for the Brazil international, and both parties remain in advanced discussions over an initial 12-month deal. The expectation is that negotiations will be wrapped up early this week.

The 35-year-old will add much need experience to what has proven to be a shaky Chelsea backline, and that trait has proved an attractive proposition to many top flight clubs across the years. 

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at the elder greats throughout Premier League history and reveals whether they were a hit or miss…

Thiago Silva is set to become the latest veteran player to secure a move to the Premier League

Thiago Silva is set to become the latest veteran player to secure a move to the Premier League

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also among the host of experienced stars to have a swansong in England

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also among the host of experienced stars to have a swansong in England

LAURENT BLANC

Joined: Manchester United

Aged: 35

It may have taken five years and multiple failed attempts, but Manchester United finally secured the signing of Laurent Blanc on a free transfer from Inter Milan in 2001.

The 35-year-old, designed to be a stop-gap replacement for Jaap Stam, signed a one-year deal at the club and was heavily criticised for his showings in his maiden top flight campaign. 

But, despite United suffering five league defeats by December in his first year and surrendering their league crown to Arsenal, Blanc was awarded another one-year contract and then helped the club win the title back in 2002-03.  

VERDICT – MISS 

Laurent Blanc won the Premier League title with Manchester United in 2003 at the age of 35

Laurent Blanc won the Premier League title with Manchester United in 2003 at the age of 35 

ESTEBAN CAMBIASSO

Joined: Leicester

Aged: 34 

Newly-promoted Leicester pulled off a shock coup when announcing the arrival of Esteban Cambiasso on a free swoop in 2014. The 34-year-old had never played in England before, but was a crucial player at Inter Milan across the course of a whole decade. 

The experienced midfielder played a key role in Leicester’s relegation battle. He netted against Manchester United in a thriller at the King Power, and later breathed new life into the scrap to avoid the drop by scoring the opener in the win over West Ham.

Cambiasso turned down an option of a year’s extension at the end of the campaign, but admitted that he had ‘lived one of the most important years’ of his glittering career in the East Midlands.

VERDICT – HIT 

The arrival of Esteban Cambiasso proved key in Leicester's fight to avoid top flight relegation

The arrival of Esteban Cambiasso proved key in Leicester’s fight to avoid top flight relegation

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC

Joined: Manchester United

Aged: 34

Manchester United sealed the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the tender age of 34 to devastating effect in 2016. 

The Sweden international joined with a formidable scoring record of 392 goals in 677 games during his playing days, and had also won a trophy in every season since 2001. Ibrahimovic netted 28 goals in all competitions during his debut campaign under Jose Mourinho, including the winner in the Carabao Cup final against Southampton. 

He then sustained serious knee ligament damage towards the end of the term, which subsequently resulted in him leaving the club with his head held high.

VERDICT – HIT 

Ibrahimovic enjoyed a lethal debut season at Old Trafford and helped them win three trophies

Ibrahimovic enjoyed a lethal debut season at Old Trafford and helped them win three trophies

FERNANDO HIERRO

Joined: Bolton

Aged: 36 

Fernando Hierro joined Bolton aged 36 and as one of the most decorated players in the history of football. The defender had won LaLiga five times, and also lifted the Champions League on three separate occasions with Real Madrid.

He bizarrely arrived in Greater Manchester in 2004 with a greater scoring rate than the majority of Bolton’s strikers at the time, boasting an impressive one in four ratio. And to little surprise, Hierro proved an instant success. The veteran was handed 15 league starts, and more substitute cameos, and brought a reassuring calmness to the club’s backline.

Bolton recorded a sixth-placed finish, narrowly missing out on the top four spots, and Hierro announced his retirement at the end of the season. 

VERDICT – HIT 

Fernando Hierro was one of football's most decorated players when he joined Bolton in 2004

Fernando Hierro was one of football’s most decorated players when he joined Bolton in 2004

GEORGE WEAH

Joined: Manchester City

Aged: 33 

The current President of Liberia proved to be a sign of real ambition for Manchester City when he was snapped up in 2000. The club were promoted back into the Premier League after a bleak four-year hiatus and, despite enduring a barren spell stretching 24 years without silverware, secured the Ballon d’Or winner on a free transfer.

The then 33-year-old netted at Anfield in City’s defeat to Liverpool. It would transpire to be his first, and only, goal in City’s colours. After just seven games and ten weeks, the club announced that Weah’s contract had been terminated.

Weah was left enraged by his ill-fated decision to head to Manchester, and openly declared that he believed he had been ‘treated like a child’. 

VERDICT – MISS

Manchester City pulled off a shock coup after signing George Weah but the move was ill-fated

Manchester City pulled off a shock coup after signing George Weah but the move was ill-fated

HENRIK LARSSON

Joined: Manchester United

Aged: 35

Henrik Larsson may have only scored three goals during his fleeting loan spell with Manchester United, but he provided so much more for the club both on and off the field. 

His 13 appearances are particularly memorable for his impact on supporters and his team-mates, and he arrived at a delicate time in 2007 with United facing an injury crisis up front. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Alan Smith were both sidelined, and Sir Alex Ferguson turned to former Celtic and Barcelona ace Larsson to support their title tilt. 

He netted on his debut and proved a much needed leader in the dressing room. Larsson returned to parent club Helsingborgs, as promised, after the three-month stint and has since became a cult hero at Old Trafford.

VERDICT – HIT 

Henrik Larsson managed to establish himself as an Old Trafford cult hero during his loan spell

Henrik Larsson managed to establish himself as an Old Trafford cult hero during his loan spell

EDGAR DAVIDS

Joined: Tottenham

Aged: 32

The termination of Edgar Davids’ contract at Inter Milan allowed him to wrap up a free transfer to Tottenham in 2005. The Holland legend enjoyed a successful stay in North London and cemented himself as a fan favourite during the two-year spell.

Spurs finished fifth in both the 2005-06 and 2006-07 campaigns with Davids offering his usual combative nature in midfield. Despite being floored by a punch from team-mate Robbie Keane at the training ground shortly after his arrival, the then 32-year-old embedded himself well.

A flurry of bookings may have seen him pick up an early suspension from top-flight action during his maiden season at the club, but Davids was able to impress and even netted his only goal for Tottenham against Wigan. 

VERDICT – HIT  

Edgar Davids' combative nature helped improve Tottenham's midfield during the two year stint

Edgar Davids’ combative nature helped improve Tottenham’s midfield during the two year stint

YOURI DJORKAEFF

Joined: Bolton

Aged: 33

The world of football was once again left shocked when a World Cup and European Championship winner decided to join Bolton in 2002. Youri Djorkaeff added a healthy dose of flair to the team, alongside Jay-Jay Okocha and Ivan Campos, and helped transform them from relegation strugglers to European contenders.

He had been an important player in the French side that were able to lift the World Cup on home soil four years before then, and was aware that he needed regular match action to help his nation defend their title in South Korea and Japan.

Djorkaeff chose Bolton, and subsequently made 75 appearances across his two years there. Having scored 20 goals, the attacker ensured himself a spot in folklore and became another of the top flight’s most memorable performers. 

VERDICT – HIT 

Youri Djorkaeff added more flair to Bolton when he arrived years after winning the World Cup

Youri Djorkaeff added more flair to Bolton when he arrived years after winning the World Cup

RUUD GULLIT

Joined: Chelsea

Aged: 32 

Chelsea were linked with former two-time world footballer of the year, Ruud Gullit, after he became available on a free transfer due to his departure from Sampdoria. The club denied the rumours, but eventually confirmed the transfer in July 1995.

The opportunity to move to London and represent the colours of Chelsea both proved attractive propositions for Gullit, and the Dutchman helped drastically improve the team on the field. He was able to record countless assists, contribute in intricate passing play and was also adept at keeping the ball ticking. 

Gullit’s experience and leadership also proved valuable, and were two of the main attributes that saw him become player-manager after Glenn Hoddle accepted the England role. But despite having won the FA Cup, Gullit was axed the next season after a high-profile disagreement with the club’s board.  

VERDICT – HIT 

Ruud Gullit impressed during his one season solely as a player at Chelsea before taking charge

Ruud Gullit impressed during his one season solely as a player at Chelsea before taking charge

ROBERTO MANCINI

Joined: Leicester

Aged: 36 

Roberto Mancini will be best remembered for winning the title during his time in the Premier League, and not for his five-game stint with Leicester in 2001. The wily Italian certainly left his mark, however. 

The club suffered three straight defeats, including a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Arsenal, at the turn of the year and were in desperate need of reinforcements. Mancini was recruited at the age of 36, but departed suddenly after failing to score a goal or complete a full 90 minutes of football. 

He was handed an initial leave of absence, ruling him out of Leicester’s FA Cup clash with Bristol City, and never returned. A phone call to the club from Mancini soon informed them that he had accepted the task of becoming Fiorentina’s new manager.  

VERDICT – MISS 

Roberto Mancini made five appearances for Leicester in 2001 but then departed shortly after

Roberto Mancini made five appearances for Leicester in 2001 but then departed shortly after

source: dailymail.co.uk

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