The Brazil international scored Chelsea’s opening goal in their 3-0 victory over West Ham at Stamford Bridge on Monday evening.
Following his free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, Thiago Silva has quickly formed a solid partnership alongside Kurt Zouma at the heart of Chelsea’s defence.
And Neville believes the 36-year-old will play an integral role in Chelsea’s campaign as the team currently sit six points behind Premier League champions Liverpool.
‘You just mentioned there about being 36 and it got me thinking about being 35, 36 and how difficult it is being a defender, becoming exposed. But he’s clever,’ Neville told Sky Sports.
‘I thought his attacking at that corner was absolutely outstanding.
‘If he stays fit and he plays all season, I think Chelsea will have a good season. I think they’ll finish in the top four.
‘We were probably intrigued how he would do in this league, he’s proven that he’s world class.
‘This idea of Brazilian centre-backs – he’s tough as hell, Thiago Silva, and I think he will get through the season well.’
‘I remember playing in the Premier League at 36 and couldn’t play like he is playing week in week out,’ said the Chelsea manager.
‘I was in and out of the team and could feel it at that stage in my career.
‘I know he’s been a great player for a long time, but the pressures of the Premier League when you’ve played in France for so long, no disrespect.
‘But he’s exceeded [expectations] probably, but really I shouldn’t have been surprised.
‘I can see the quality, the preparation, the desire to win headers and he is very studious about the game. He has been a great addition on and off the pitch.’