OFFICIAL: Ivanovic leaves Chelsea to join Zenit

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Branislav Ivanovic ended his nine-year stay at Chelsea on Wednesday by agreeing a move to Russian giants Zenit St Petersburg.

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Ivanovic's contract at Stamford Bridge was set to expire at the end of the season, and he has opted for a new challenge at Zenit, signing a two-and-a-half-year deal.

He made nearly 400 appearances at Stamford Bridge and won two Premier League titles as well as the Champions League, and also scored a stoppage-time winner as Chelsea beat Benfica 2-1 in the 2012-13 Europa League final.

However, he fell out of favour with Blues boss Antonio Conte following the latter's switch to a three-man backline last September and had been heavily linked with a winter exit.

That arrived after he landed in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday to join Zenit, with Mircea Lucescu's men currently five points behind leaders Spartak Moscow in second in the Russia Premier League.


Chelsea kick off as Ivanovic jets off

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"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 the club's official website after they had announced the deal.

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"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.