Alex on Sakho duel and why Thiago Silva is PSG's best
Paris Saint-Germain centre-half Alex believes Thiago Silva is the club's best player and the best defender in the world. It leaves Alex fighting it out with Mamadou Sakho for the right to play. Ligue1.com interview.
A Premier League champion with Chelsea in 2010, Alex traded Stamford Bridge for Paris St Germain in January of this year and having teamed up once more with ex-Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti, the big Brazilian defender is enjoying his football in the French capital.
The 30-year-old has started nine of PSG's 13 league matches this season and is battling with Sakho for the right to partner Thiago Silva at the heart of the defence at home to second-bottom Troyes on Saturday. Alex got the nod for the 2-0 win at Dynamo Kyiv in midweek that booked PSG's place in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League, something holders Chelsea are in danger of missing out on.
Alex: Ancelotti faith runs both ways
Alex said: "I left Chelsea in the middle of last season because I wasn't playing and the most important thing for any player is to play. I had a few offers but I spoke to Carlo Ancelotti - someone who has faith in me and in whom I have faith - and that was enough to make me ask for a transfer so that I could join PSG. Thanks to God, I've adapted quickly to life in France."
Ancelotti won the double with Chelsea in 2010, and Alex believes the London club were wrong to sack him after finishing runners-up the following year.
"I think Chelsea made a big mistake when they sacked Ancelotti. But nowadays a wealthy owner can sack a coach when he wants and bring in another big name. I have an excellent relationship with Ancelotti. He's friendly with all the players and it'd be difficult to find someone who has a bad word to say about him. He's a good man so when he called me and asked me to come to Paris I was really happy to have the chance to work with him again."
"Still looking for best team"
Ancelotti freely spoke of crisis after the Week 13 home loss to nine-man Rennes that saw PSG slip off top spot. The capital club have managed only one point from their last three Ligue 1 fixtures and while Alex does not expect Ancelotti to change his modus operandi, he does concede that the Italian is still trying to hit on the best combination.
"He's exactly the same as he was Chelsea. The difference is that the team he inherited at Chelsea was already strong. At PSG, he has to build a new team himself. That's why he chops and changes the players a lot; he is still looking for his best team."
"Thiago Silva is PSG's best player"
One man who always gets picked when available is Thiago Silva and Alex rates his compatriot as PSG's biggest asset, above even Zlatan Ibrahimovic : "Thiago Silva is the captain of Brazil. At 28, he has a lot of experience and he helps us a lot. He is also a brilliant player - in my opinion he is PSG's best player - and the way he brings the ball out of defence is superb. He's even played a few games in midfield, which shows just what a good footballer he is. For me, he's the best defender in the world."
Alex on Sakho: "It's very difficult"
Alex is fully aware of Sakho's assets and the competition for a place with the French international stopper will continue to be ferocious: "Sakho's an excellent player, he plays for France and it's obviously a problem for him if he's not playing regularly for the club that trained him. It's very difficult because we travel to the games without knowing which one of us will play. The coach only tells us about three hours before. We're always a bit anxious because we want to know if we're playing or not, especially if it's a big Champions League match."
Alex has already scored some important goals - including a magnificent free-kick against Montpellier last season: "I used to practice free kicks a lot before I injured my knee. When I was at Santos, I learned a lot from the coach Emerson Leao. I tried to shoot as powerfully as possible and would always aim for the goalkeeper."
Of course, with Ibrahimovic in the PSG ranks it is now harder for the bulky central defender to insist on taking free-kicks. When he does though, and shifts his 92 kilos through the ball, they stay hit.