Is Chelsea Defender Branislav Ivanovic the Ideal Transfer Move for PSG?

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Is Chelsea Defender Branislav Ivanovic the Ideal Transfer Move for PSG?
Clint Hughes/Associated Press

According to the Daily Mail on Monday, Paris Saint-Germain are interested in signing Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic this summer.

The Serbian international is thought to be one of PSG coach Laurent Blanc’s top targets at the end of the season, but is also expected to open talks with Jose Mourinho over a new contract at Stamford Bridge in the coming weeks.

Ivanovic, according to the report, was targeted by the French champions last summer, but was convinced by the Portuguese to stay at the club and has since been further won over by the Blues’ impressive form this campaign.

Considering the recent signing of Saint-Etienne’s Kurt Zouma and the young Frenchman’s impending arrival this summer, there is set to be renewed competition for defensive positions in south-west London.

However, Ivanovic has featured almost exclusively as a right-back for Mourinho and not as a central defender. If PSG were to make a move for the 29-year-old, it is thought that they would be pursuing him to play in that position and not to partner Brazilian international Thiago Silva in the middle.

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With that in mind, would Ivanovic be the ideal signing for PSG this summer?

On the face of it, the 6'2" Serbian international, who has been capped 67 times, offers considerable experience, a major height advantage at both ends of the pitch and is an extremely powerful player.

A defender with those qualities would be an excellent addition for the side from the French capital, but in the middle and not on the right. Ivanovic’s ability to defend set pieces is arguably his biggest plus point from a Parisian point of view at this moment.

PSG have struggled to defend themselves adequately from those opportunities in recent weeks, losing at home in the Coupe de France to Montpellier and drawing away at Guingamp in the league, thanks to conceding goal from corners and free kicks.

The Serb’s commanding presence at the back would make the team more solid and tougher to break down. But with a player who is not renowned for his speed at right-back, it would also make the back four more susceptible to pace.

As a right-back in Blanc’s PSG side, speed is a minimum requirement on both sides as bombing forward to provide the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani with crosses and passes is their main function.

Christophe Ena/Associated Press

Gregory van der Wiel, Maxwell and Lucas Digne are all fast players with plenty of stamina and excellent crossing abilities. Ivanovic is a relatively good crosser of the ball, surprisingly so for a converted central defender, but right-back is not his natural position.

His lack of speed compared to van der Wiel, first choice in that role at present, would be noticeable. Getting from one end of the pitch to another in order to aid attacks or help clear the lines at the back multiple times each game would also heavily drain his energy levels on a regular basis.

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In fact, since 2010, Ivanovic has been saying that he prefers to play in the middle and not out wide, something that he has reiterated from time to time whenever he has been deployed in his favoured role as cover for either John Terry, Gary Cahill or David Luiz.

Ivanovic as a central defender is something that could work for PSG though.

Alex is currently one of three central defenders that Blanc relies on for PSG, partnering either the 31-year-old Brazilian or teenage sensation Marquinhos alongside their compatriot Silva at the heart of the defence.

The former Chelsea stopper, despite having featured more often than both of his fellow Selecao stars so far this season, is out of contract in June and is yet to extend his current deal. It is believed that the hold up regarding an extension is because of his squad status as a non-European.

French clubs are allowed to have four non-EU players in their squad and Alex currently occupies one of those berths for PSG, with the others taken by fellow Brazilians Silva, Marquinhos and Lucas Moura. With that final spot perhaps of better use elsewhere, Ivanovic replacing Alex is a realistic possibility.

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It is an option that might also prove attractive to PSG.

They could bring in a European player to replace Alex and then look outside of the continent for attack-based reinforcements. The switch might also suit the player better in that respect, providing the Ligue 1 leaders with a persuasive argument for the Serb to leave Chelsea.

Overall though, it is a move that would only really make sense if Ivanovic was given a position in the middle of the back line. While the player would bring a number of much-needed qualities to the PSG squad, he simply does not fit Blanc’s current attacking 4-3-3 system at the Parc des Princes.

The player leaving Stamford Bridge now that he has his coach’s complete faith in another point for debate. Ivanovic would be an excellent addition to the French champions as a replacement for Alex in a central role, but there are other positions that require addressing as well as the defence.

Blanc will have his hands full in the summer bolstering the PSG squad in both wide attacking and defensive positions, with further depth needed centrally and another central midfielder required for greater rotation of his preferred three-man unit in the middle of the park.

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