Despite being regarded as one of the best defenders in the Premier League in recent years, Branislav Ivanovic has endured a nightmare start to this campaign. His jaded performances have seen him a persistent target for criticism.
These poor showings made it highly unlikely that Chelsea would offer the right-back a new contract. However, against all the odds and the wishes of the majority of Blues fans, Ivanovic looks set to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge in the coming weeks.
Many are baffled by the decision seeing as the Serbian has been a shadow of his former self in 2015-16. The right-back is simply becoming a Premier League relic with this season witnessing him being torn limb-from-limb by rapid wingers.
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This season has seen swift forwards such as Odion Ighalo and Jamie Vardy dominate the domestic campaign. As a result, sides are having to garner agile defenders in order to counter this growing trend of athletic strikers.
Ever since the summer, Ivanovic has been a constant target by the opposition due to his sluggish agility.
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Sadio Mane single-handedly destroyed the jaded right-back in Chelsea’s 3-1 home defeat to Southampton in October and Bournemouth’s swift offensive arsenal left Ivanovic in tatters.
Under Guus Hiddink it was thought that the Serbian may have addressed this issue but the weekend's clash with Everton contradicts this.
A number of pundits highlighted how lethal the Toffees’ left-flank had proven, with Ivanovic being the victim.
Leighton Baines and Ross Barkley simply played around Ivanovic as if he wasn’t there in a dominant display. Everton exploited this weakness and swiftly reaped rewards with the right-back’s grit and determination being no match for raw sprinting and furness.
Chelsea unfortunately have few better options when it comes to the full-back positions.
Cesar Azplicueta has been deployed at right-back on a handful of occasions but having to play Baba Rahman on that side of the pitch would prove bold and risky.
Besides, playing Azplicueta on the right would neglect the Spaniard who is trying to perfect the art of the left-back. Flinging the ex-Marseille man from flank to flank will only prove detrimental to his relatively new career at the top.
Kenedy could prove an option but it would be a resounding misuse of the Brazilian whom has oodles of talent to offer in offensive areas.
Consequently, it seems to appear that a new contract for Ivanovic is in the pipeline because there is simply no better alternative.
However, with Chelsea in dire need of victories they should not persist with a player who has been plagued by mistakes and poor showings.
Whilst the other options may not seem appealing, Chelsea can only put up with their mistake-ladened Serbian for so long. A club legend yes, but in 2015-16 the 31-year-old has only done damage to a Blues side already on its knees.
Chelsea fans: Who would be a good replacement for Ivanovic? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!
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