Branislav Ivanovic has ended his nine-year stay at Chelsea by agreeing a move to Russian giants Zenit.
Ivanovic’s contract at Stamford Bridge was set to expire at the end of the season and he has struggled for game time under Antonio Conte this term, making just 16 appearances in all competitions – the last of which came in a goalscoring farewell appearance in the 4-0 FA Cup win over Brentford.
The 32-year-old has consequently opted for a new challenge at Zenit, with whom he has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal.
“I can say I’m very happy to come here, and to be at a big club like Zenit, I hope together we’ll have success,” he told Zenit’s official website after the club had announced the deal.
“I had a very big hope to come back to Russia and to play here. I am motivated and I think that I can play for many more seasons at the top level.
“I can say that I am excited to be here and everything went smoothly.
“I am happy just to play. I am happy in the centre or on the right. That’s probably a question for the manager but I am happy to play in any position.”
The Serbia international joined Chelsea from Lokomotiv Moscow in January 2008 and, after waiting eight months to make his debut, established himself as a firm favourite among the fans.
Ivanovic was a consistent performer and won eight major trophies during his time in west London, his haul including two Premier League titles and Champions League glory in 2011-12, although he was suspended for the final against Bayern Munich.
The defender also scored a stoppage-time winner as Chelsea beat Benfica 2-1 in the 2012-13 Europa League final.
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