Chelsea Transfer News: Branislav Ivanovic Reportedly in Zenit Talks, Top Rumours

Alex Keble@alexkebleFeatured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2017

Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic could be set for a move to Zenit St Petersburg during the January window and has already begun discussions with the club, according to Simon Jones of MailOnline. 

The 32-year-old's contract is set to expire in six months, but Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is reportedly happy to see him leave on a free transfer before the end of the month. The deal could even be completed over the upcoming weekend.

Zenit are believed to be offering Ivanovic a three-and-a-half year contract despite his age, which could be a tempting offer for the Serb and probably amounts to more time than any of the English clubs interested in his services would be willing to offer.

West Ham United, Leicester City and Everton are all intrigued by the out-of-favour right-back, per Jones, but none have approached Chelsea at this time.

Ivanovic has enjoyed a glittering career at Stamford Bridge since his arrival in January 2008, winning two Premier League titles and three FA Cups. He also played a prominent role in their 2012-13 Champions League triumph, although he was suspended for the final against Bayern Munich.

However, Ivanovic has struggled to hold down a first-team place under Conte and has made just six league starts this season, per WhoScored.com.

The Italian manager's preference for wing-backs has not helped the Serb, but poor performances during the disastrous 2015-16 campaign have also been a factor in his diminishing importance at Stamford Bridge.

Jones reported that although Ivanovic is still attached to the club, he wants more first-team action, something he clearly will not get at Chelsea. With Nathan Ake recalled from his loan deal at AFC Bournemouth and Kurt Zouma back from injury, Ivanovic did not even make the substitutes bench for the 2-0 victory over Hull City on Jan. 22.

Chelsea may need to free up the 32-year-old's reported £65,000-per-week wages in order to bring in new recruits. Chelsea's €25 million (£21.4 million) bid for Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie was rejected by Atalanta this week, per Sky Sport Italia (via Football Italia), but the deal is not dead in the water.

The player's agent, George Atangana, is flying to London soon to begin discussions with a number of Premier League clubs ahead of a potential summer move to England, according to Calciomercato.com.

Since Conte is seemingly keen on bolstering his midfield options, sending Ivanovicdeemed surplus to requirements of late—to Zenit seems like a sensible move for all parties. 

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