Branislav Ivanovic is on the verge of leaving Chelsea, as he edges closer to a securing a move to Zenit St. Petersburg in the coming days.

Russian news outlet Sport Express have reported that Branislav Ivanovic will no longer be a Chelsea player from February as the Blues veteran is edging closer to signing a two-and-a-half-year deal with Russian giants Zenit St. Petersburg.

Branislav Ivanovic has been one of the most important players for Chelsea in their rise to being a heavyweight in European football. Signed from Lokomotiv Moscow in 2008, the Serbian has established himself as a revered figure for the Blues in his nine-year career with the West London club.

Ivanovic moved to Stamford Bridge as tough-tackling centre-back, but after nine, trophy laden years with Chelsea, he is all set to be remembered as a dependable right-back who excelled at the back while also proving to be effective in his attacking ventures.

Ivanovic has struggled to become a regular under Antonio Conte. (Photo courtesy - Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanovic has struggled to become a regular under Antonio Conte. (Photo courtesy – Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)

In 376 appearances, Ivanovic scored 33 goals and provided as many assists to become a firm fan favourite at the club. He also displayed a penchant for making a mark on the score sheet in important fixtures and crucial junctures over the years, as is evident from the injury time winner he scored to clinch the Europa League for Chelsea in 2013.

The Europa League triumph was only one of the many titles the Serb has won with Chelsea, getting his hands on every big trophy there is to win in Europe, with the Premier League (twice), FA Cup (thrice), League Cup (once) as well as the UEFA Champions League (2011/12).

However, after eight successful seasons with at Stamford Bridge, it looks like Ivanovic has reached the end of his storied Chelsea career. The 32-year-old has struggled for form in the past couple of seasons, and since Antonio Conte’s switch to the 3-4-3 formation, he has barely managed to start a game for the Blues.

With minutes of first team football difficult to get with the West London club, Ivanovic has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge in recent months, having been linked with the likes of Everton, Crystal Palace and Juventus.

However, it now looks like he is all set to return to Russia this month to join Zenit on a free transfer. And even though Ivanovic still has five months to run on his current deal with the club, Chelsea are prepared to let the defender leave for free in a move similar to that of John Obi Mikel’s to Tianjin TEDA earlier this month.

Ivanovic will sign a two-and-a-half-year deal with Zenit, and will earn €5 million a year in wages.

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