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Ivanović allowed to leave for free, will sign 2.5-year contract with performance-based incentives

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Just as in the case of Mikel John Obi, Chelsea are allowing club legend Branislav Ivanović to leave on a free transfer despite six months still remaining on his contract.  Earlier this month, Mikel joined Chinese Super League team Tianjin TEDA, while Ivanović looks set to complete his transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg on Transfer Deadline Day — though it should be noted that the Russian transfer window doesn't close until February 24, so they have three more weeks to finalize the deal if they chose or need to do so.

According to the latest report in Sport-Express, who originally broke this story last week, Ivanović will sign a 2.5-year deal, with an option for one additional season, that's set to pay out €3.2m per year (roughly £50k per week).  His contract will have several performance-based incentives, such as winning the Russian Premier League or reaching the quarterfinals of the Champions League, and while some are questioning the wisdom of giving a soon-to-be 33-year-old that much money for that long (especially with the league's renewed emphasis on homegrown players), in general, Ivanović is being seen as good business and an exciting, big name signing.

The report also claims that Ivanović could've made more money in China, but he chose to go somewhere where he can still win meaningful matches and trophies, and where he's already familiar with the environment, having spent a couple seasons there before Chelsea signed him nine years ago, in 2008.

Plus, this way we might yet see him in the future, should Chelsea and Zenit meet on the European stage.