The Barcelona boss is looking at several candidates to bolster his side's back line but hinted that it would be difficult to bring the PSG star to Camp Nou.
The Paris Saint-Germain stopper says he intends to see out his current deal at Parc des Princes despite interest from Barcelona, while Roma youngster Marquinhos has also been linked with a switch to Camp Nou.
Although sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta denied any official bid had been made for Marquinhos, both he and Vilanova hinted at interest in the 19-year-old as a move for Silva appears to be stalling.
"The intention is to find a center back. I would like him [Thiago Silva] to come, but I have not given just one name. We want to sign a center back," Vilanova told a press conference on Tuesday.
Zubizarreta added: "We do not usually say which player we want, negotiations are not retransmitted. We intend to have the best squad possible. It's not true there's an offer [for Marquinhos], but he's an interesting player."
Vilanova went on to voice his dismay and Barcelona's defensive injury misfortunes last season, and hinted at disappointment in the performances of Alex Song, who was frequently asked to slot into the back four in the absence of Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano.
"We already talked in November and February [about replacements]," he continued. "[Seydou] Keita left and Song had to come. We thought he could fill the gap and did not count on the possibility of having so many injuries and so much bad luck. We will bring in a central defender, for sure."
The scarcity of options at the back allowed Masia graduate Marc Bartra to stake his claim for further first-team action next season, and Vilanova encouraged the youngster to seize any more chances that come his way.
"He will have to win the spotlight. It is the players who earn their minutes," the 44-year-old added.