Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic will be handed a new contract by the Blues in order to head off interest from Real Madrid in next month's transfer window.
The Spaniards were looking to sign the 25-year-old next month after their influential defender Pepe was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. But Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has become a huge admirer of Ivanovic and is determined to keep him at the club, especially as right-back Jose Bosingwa is facing another two months on the sidelines with his knee problem.
Ivanovic, who joined Chelsea for £9.7million from Lokomotiv Moscow in January 2007, made a slow start to his career at Stamford Bridge, however he has become an increasing influence on the first team over the past 12 months.
Ancelotti sees the right-back as vital to his first-team plans and Chelsea want to tie the player down to a new long-term deal.
As it stands, he will only have one year left on his contract at the end of this season but Chelsea will hope to extend it by another four years.
Ivanovic is believed to be keen to commit his long-term future and is eager to help the club land the Barclays Premier League title. But the Serbian admits Chelsea, who face Birmingham on Boxing Day, need to address their recent poor form which has seen them win just once in the last five games.
Ancelotti's side have a four-point lead over Manchester United going into the Christmas programme and Ivanovic believes the title can be effectively wrapped up in the next month with a series of strong displays.
"It is a very strong league," said Ivanovic. "There are great teams, not just the big four. When you play away at the home of small teams you have to work hard because they defend strongly and try to score off set-pieces."
His words are particularly apt as Chelsea have been at fault from numerous dead-ball situations this season.
"You have to play every game to the maximum because, in the Premier League, they are all strong teams," he added. "If something happens and you don't win, then the teams near to you in the league are very strong and can catch you. If you relax one per cent, you can lose goals and the result looks so different than if you played to your maximum."
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