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Chelsea stalwart set for imminent exit as €5m-a-year offer will end Stamford Bridge tenure

Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic is reportedly closing in on a return to Russia as Zenit St Petersburg are close to signing him and ending his spell in England.

The 32-year-old has been at Stamford Bridge since 2008 after his move from Lokomotiv Moscow, making over 300 appearances for the club and winning countless trophies.

However, the natural progression of his career in west London has seen him regress and fall into a cover role, particularly under Antonio Conte this season after the Italian switched to his favoured 3-4-3 system.

With Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta established as the back three along with the revelation that is Victor Moses this season, Ivanovic has been limited to just 15 appearances in all competitions, with many of those substitute appearances.

In turn, speculation has been rife over the veteran’s future with his contract set to expire in the summer, and according to Sport Express, he is set to join Zenit before the end of the month.

It’s claimed that Ivanovic will sign a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Russian outfit, penning terms on a contract worth €5m per year.

Although it will undoubtedly be disappointing for Chelsea fans to see him leave after such a successful spell with them, the time is certainly right for him to move on and for the club to look for adequate long-term replacements.

Antonio Conte’s side continue to lead the way in the Premier League this season, and with a return to the Champions League expected next year, they will have to add quality and depth.

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