This is certainly an important summer for Chelsea. The return of Jose Mourinho will mark a shift in balance for the Premier League crown, as the Blues look to make a sustained challenge for the title next season.
Mourinho has already invested wisely in André Schürrle, the German striker from Bayer Leverkusen and midfielder Marco van Ginkel. Chelsea can also welcome Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne back from successful loan spells, giving the Londoners some useful strength in depth.
With their transfer radar still navigating the market for top-class talent, one Chelsea man closer to home has still to secure his long-term future with the club.
Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic may not be the most talented player at Stamford Bridge. Nor the most important, yet, his place in the squad has been vital in recent success under Rafael Benitez.
The 29-year-old is an invaluable cog and has been for over 200 matches in England. A central defender by nature, but a makeshift right-back, Ivanovic’s level of consistency in the Premier League and Europe has been impressive.
It has shown a lot about the Serbian’s character and work-rate, making up for the deficiencies in his game with effort, desire and a strong tactical understanding.
Ivanovic cost the Blues £9.7 million from Spartak Moscow, with a frustrating range of injuries holding him back in his first 18 months with the club.
Under Luiz Felipe Scolari and Andre Villas-Boas, Ivanovic asserted his qualities on the side and managed to hold down the right-back position.
Last season was, perhaps, Ivanovic’s best in a Chelsea shirt. Benitez kept the defender in his starting XI, varying his position throughout the season—but right-back was increasingly where he starred.
Among his 20 goals in blue is an injury-time, looping header against Benfica in the UEFA Europa League final; a memorable moment for a player who has made himself a cult hero at Stamford Bridge.
Ivanovic was named Man of the Match in the final and received a rapture of plaudits from current teammates and fans.
Wanted by Paris Saint-Germain, according to the Daily Mail, Ivanovic is rated by Laurent Blanc, who is keen to sign the Serbian for the right-back slot in Paris.
After five years in West London and still going strong, Ivanovic has three years to run on his current deal, which would certainly force PSG into a high transfer fee for the player, should they decide to bid.
With Mourinho marking a change in era and ethos, it is always crucial to have a strong backbone to stabilise the club, and Ivanovic fits that bill.
The 29-year-old has been one of Chelsea’s most consistent players in recent seasons, and his stay in London shouldn’t be coming to an end too soon.
In fact, Chelsea should do everything to keep the player in England.