Chelsea’s ace defender Branislav Ivanovic is set to face an uphill task in holding on to his place in the first team as new manager Antonio Conte is looking forward to make major changes in the defensive lineup.
It is believed that the former Juventus boss would shift present left-back Cesar Azpilicueta to his preferred right-back position which would jeopardise Ivanovic’s place in the team.
Conte is also planning to bring in new full-back Marcos Alonso, who joined the Blues for £23million on transfer deadline day. The expected reshuffle in the full-back positions suggests that Ivanovic might go down the pecking order, with few months left in his current contract which expires next June.
Conte could have used Ivanovic in the centre-back position but after David Luiz’s move back to Chelsea it seems that the Italian manager would opt for the former PSG defender, which would further restrict Ivanovic’s chances of making it to the first team.
Pundits believe that Ivanovic might have to leave Stamford Bridge for free in the summer with Andreas Christensen set to return from his two-year loan spell with the Bundesliga Borussia Monchengladbach.
Initially after taking charge at Chelsea, Conte searched the market for central defenders, a striker and a midfielder. But after spending more time with the squad the Italian focussed more on bolstering to his defense.
It is believed that Ivanovic has developed a close relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich since joining the Blues in 2008, but now the fan favourite faces an uphill task in proving his worth to his new manager.
Chelsea also has other options in defense and it is believed that Conte would like to test the skills of budding right-back Ola Aina, who is desperate to make a cut sooner or later.
French defender Kurt Zouma, who at present is recovering from a knee surgery is also expected to make a comeback within the next few weeks .
Ivanovic has played a pivotal role in guiding the Chelsea defense during his eight-year stint at the club. However, he saw a dip in his form during the first half of the last season and only managed to earn a one-year extension