On-loan Brighton central defender Levi Colwill has praised Chelsea centre-back rival Thiago Silva, describing him as ‘a joke’, and lauded Graham Potter.
The 20-year-old has had a mixed stay on the south coast, taking a while to earn a spot in the side before an injury sustained in January saw him miss six weeks of the campaign.
When he has played, Colwill has delivered good and mature displays, with Brighton winning six of the eight Premier League matches he has played in.
He returned to action in the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace before the international break, keeping a clean sheet, and also impressed for England Under-21s with many believing it will not be long before he makes the step to senior team.
Although Chelsea have spent big on centre-backs recently, the London club are said to rate Colwill highly and he will fancy his chances of returning to Stamford Bridge in the summer and competing for a place in the starting lineup.
In an interview with The Times, Colwill says he is used to fighting for his place – up against Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster and Joel Veltman – and feels Chelsea defenders are ‘no better’ than his present team-mates.
Colwill will need to usurp players like Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana and Badiashile, but it is Thiago Silva he rates the highest, describing the Brazilian as ‘a joke’.
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Reflecting on his loan thus far, he said: ‘My loan spell has been a rollercoaster. At the start, I wasn’t playing as much as I’d have liked.
‘Now, I’m playing and learning a lot each game, gaining my team-mates’ respect and [respect] from everyone who perhaps lost respect for me when I wasn’t playing.’
It was the departure of Potter to Chelsea – and the arrival of Roberto De Zerbi – that saw Colwill handed more first-team chances, though he is a huge fan of the current Blues manager.
He continued: ‘Graham’s a great man. When he was here, I had loads of conversations with him, always guiding me the right way, telling me how he wants to play. I’ve not spoken with him since he left. I think he’ll start doing good things at Chelsea soon.’
On De Zerbi he added: ‘If you watched me at Huddersfield Town, you’d see a completely different player in terms of my composure and awareness. The manager has helped me so much: in training, he’s always there, hands-on.
‘He’s also giving me that freedom to play, to make my own choices and express how good I really am. That’s the best part of it. The stuff he does in training, the way he plans games . . . it’s amazing.’