Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic is in talks with Zenit St Petersburg and could sign for the Russian club this weekend, despite interest from Everton and West Ham United. The Serbian international has become somewhat of a forgotten man at Stamford Bridge this season, and Antonio Conte is happy to let him leave in order to receive regular first-team football.
Ivanovic started the season as a right-back but fell foul of the system change by Conte and has not started a Premier League game since September. The 32-year-old is keen to see more minutes on the pitch and The Daily Mail reports that while Everton, West Ham and Leicester City have been monitoring the defender's situation, it is Zenit who are closest to agreeing a deal.
Ivanovic has just six months left to run on his current contract with the table toppers, who are prepared to let him leave on a free transfer. The Champions League and Europa League winner is currently behind Victor Moses, who has excelled in a wing-back role this season, and has only seen 42 minutes of Premier League action since 24 September.
The right-back, who can also operate as a central defender, has played 375 times for Chelsea since joining from Lokomotiv Moscow and has won eight major trophies during his time in West London, including two Premier League titles.
Everton are believed to be looking for a new centre-back with questions over the future of captain Phil Jagielka, but it is thought the Blues would prefer to bring in a player of a younger age. West Ham, who signed Jose Fonte last week, have not been able to find a solution for their troublesome right-back slot; Sam Byram has struggled with injuries while veteran Alvaro Arbeloa is simply not fit for purpose.
But both clubs look set to be beaten to the services of Ivanovic by Zenit, who are poised to offer the Chelsea stalwart a three-and-a-half year deal.