Why Branislav Ivanovic is a smart signing for West Brom
According to BBC, former Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic has made a sensational return to the Premier League, with newly-promoted West Brom signing the veteran. The 36-year-old was a free agent following the expiry of his contract with Zenit St. Petersburg.
A household name in European football, Branislav Ivanovic hardly requires an introduction to any football fan on the planet. The former Serbian international shot to prominence with Lokomotiv Moscow in Russia before earning a move to Chelsea in 2007.
Ivanovic went on to register a staggering 377 appearances for the Blues in all competitions over the course of nine seasons at Stamford Bridge. He won 10 major pieces of silverware, including 3 PL titles, 3 FA Cups, the League Cup, Europa League, and the Champions League before departing for Zenit St. Petersburg in 2017.
The 36-year-old added two Russian Premier League titles to his sparkling cabinet, including the league and cup double last season.
Ivanovic would add a lot of experience to West Brom’s defence
West Brom have largely focussed on strengthening their attack this summer after securing promotion to the Premier League. The Baggies have secured permanent deals for last season’s loan attackers, Grady Diangana, Matheus Pereira and Callum Robinson. Centre-back Cedric Kipre has also been roped in from Wigan Athletic.
Kipre is expected to provide Bilic with some additional cover at the heart of the defence. Semi Ajayi and Kyle Bartley did exceptionally well as Albion’s first-choice central defensive pairing in the Championship last season, with Ahmed Hegazy and Dara O’Shea also impressing in tandem.
It will be interesting to see how many of those defenders manage to cut the teeth in the Premier League. Besides Hegazy, none of them has much top-flight experience under the belt, something that remains a major cause of concern for the Baggies.
The same applies to the club’s options at right-back, where Darnell Furlong and youngster O’Shea remain the only senior options. Both fared well in the Championship but are yet to get a taste of top-flight football.
To put things into perspective, West Brom need a true leader to marshall the troops at the back and a veteran like Branislav Ivanovic could be an invaluable asset to any promoted club.
The 36-year-old may have lost a lot of pace due to his advancing years, as evident from his struggles in the Champions League last season. However, the right-back looked really comfortable and authoritative whenever he was deployed as a central defender at Zenit.
Hence, West Brom would be better off looking at Ivanovic as a centre-back option to get the best out of him at this stage of his career.
The Serbian stalwart is unlikely to be a regular starter for the Baggies but his vast know-how of the English top-flight coupled with his winning mentality should go a long way towards helping younger players like O’Shea, Furlong, and Ajayi rise to the challenge.
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Branislav Ivanovic might only be a shadow of his former glorious self but he still has something to offer at the top level. The Baggies are in need of an experienced head at the back and the former Chelsea man looks more than capable of fitting in as a utility option at the Hawthorns.
Having said that, West Brom have completed a shrewd piece of business by signing Ivanovic on a free transfer.