But he has played an important role in turning Chelsea’s defense upside down this season, drawing praise from all walks of life.
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And Cole admits he’s changed his mind about the Brazilian, who he says is second behind Virgil van Dijk in terms of a Premier League center-back.
” Unbelievable. Out of all the signings, when he arrived, I knew he was one of the great advocates of our generation, but at 36 – you worry, ”Cole said on BT Sport. “Traditionally, players of this age entering the Premier League, it’s very difficult.
“The Premier League is a different beast now.
“I don’t think they do centerbacks like him now, other than van Dijk he’s the best in the league, maybe there is a point for that.
“For Rudiger, Zouma or Christensen beside him, he sets the standards.
“This is the level you want to achieve if you want to rank as a world class center-back. ”
Peter Crouch, a BT Sport specialist, shared Cole’s feelings.
“At 36, most of the time you go to Serie A or La Liga, which is maybe a little easier for that age,” Crouch said.
“I thought when he gave the ball in his first game I was worried, but since then he’s been flawless.