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