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Chelsea Defender Branislav Ivanovic Close To Stamford Bridge Exit [Reports]

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 08: Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea (L) is put under pressure from Gwion Edwards of Peterborough United (R) during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Chelsea and Peterborough United at Stamford Bridge on January 8, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Chelsea’s mini January exodus is set to continue this weekend with Branislav Ivanovic set to leave the club before next week’s deadline.

Midfielders Oscar and John Obi Mikel have departed for the Chinese Super League, while striker Patrick Bamford has joined Middlesbrough on a permanent basis having been on loan for most of his Stamford Bridge career.

With the deadline fast approaching, it appears as though Branislav Ivanovic is set to follow his former teammates through the exit doors, with Mailsport reporting that a deal to take him to Zenit is close to being finalised.

The Serbian international has been a mainstay of the Chelsea backline for a number of years, making 375 appearances since joining from Lokomotiv Moscow in a £9.7m deal almost a decade ago. However, he has found first-team opportunities hard to come by under Antonio Conte this term, and after just six Premier League starts all season (and none since the 3-0 to Arsenal in September and the manager’s subsequent alteration to a 3-4-3 formation), the writing his on the wall for his Chelsea career.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Alex Iwobi of Arsenal (L) is fouled by Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea (R) during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on September 24, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

The 32-year-old’s contract is due to expire at the end of the season, so Chelsea are prepared to let him go now on a free transfer rather than pay him to sit on the bench until June and then lose him for nothing anyway.

Ivanovic had offers from a number other Premier League clubs but according to the report, he has instead chosen to return to Russia and play a part in Zenit’s title challenge and Europa League campaign.

Depending on how far along the talks are, Ivanovic could still yet feature in Chelsea’s FA Cup match against Brentford this weekend. Indeed, the club would probably like to give him some form of send-off having been such a stalwart for almost ten years.

Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic (L) vies for the ball against Arsenal's Togolese player Emmanuel Adebayor (C) during the Premiership match at Stamford Bridge in London on November 30, 2008. Arsenal won the game 2-1. AFP PHOTO / Adrian Dennis  FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY Additional licence required for any commercial/promotional use or use on TV or internet (except identical online version of newspaper) of Premier League/Football League photos. Tel DataCo +44 207 2981656. Do not alter/modify photo. (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Once that has come and gone, however, Ivanovic is unlikely to still be a Chelsea player by close of business on Tuesday.

Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team. If you would like to join the team, drop us an email at write@punditarena.com.

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