Chelsea boss Antonio Conte could be set to lose two key, experienced members of his squad before the January transfer window deadline on Tuesday.
According to The Daily Mail, Branislav Ivanovic is close to agreeing a three-and-a-half year deal with Zenit St Petersburg, as he looks set to bring the curtain down on a stellar spell at Stamford Bridge.
The Serbian veteran joined Chelsea in 2008, and has gone on to win two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League in a glittering stint with the English outfit.
However, the 32-year-old has been forced to the bench this season as Conte has preferred other options in his three-man defence, and in turn, Ivanovic will be allowed to leave on a free transfer with a final decision set to be made on Monday.
It will be a tough decision for the experienced defender, but ultimately with little playing time expected at Stamford Bridge, it seems like the most sensible one as a return to Russia will allow him to play regularly in the latter stages of his career as he prepares to bid an emotional farewell.
Elsewhere, goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has revealed that while he doesn’t regret his move to Chelsea at all, the time has potentially come for him to prove his qualities elsewhere.
The Bosnian shot-stopper has had to play second fiddle to Thibaut Courtois through most of his time in west London, making just his fifth appearance of the season in Saturday’s win over Brentford in the FA Cup.
Bournemouth are keen on signing the 29-year-old, as per The Mirror, and although he won’t be sold unless an adequate replacement can be found, it sounds as though he’s resigned to leaving before Tuesday’s transfer deadline.
“I have spoken with the boss – we are quite open about it, he knows I am desperate to play, and that’s all it is really,” he is quoted saying by the Mirror.
“If he can make it happen for me he will. That is something that is going to be sorted out in the next couple of days.
“I’m 29 – 30 in the summer – and feel fantastic and in great shape. It would be a waste not to play and show people what I can do.”
Conte isn’t expected to make any major signings between now and the deadline, and so the Italian tactician will hope he has more than enough cover to cope with an intense Premier League title race that is set to play out in the coming months.