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Branislav Ivanovic completes move from Chelsea to Zenit

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The transfer window may have shut at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday but deals are still trickling through.

[ MORE: Full January transfer news ] 

Branislav Ivanovic, 32, has completed his move from Chelsea to Russian Premier League side Zenit St. Petersburg as the transfer window in Russia is open until Feb. 24. Ivanovic needed to be registered as a Zenit player last night in order to be available for their upcoming European games.

The Chelsea defender had fallen down the pecking order this season and the Serbian international has joined Zenit on a free transfer, signing a two-and-a-half-year deal with the club challenging for the league title and in the Round of 32 of the UEFA Europa League.

After signing for Chelsea in 2008 from Lokomotiv Moscow, Ivanovic went on to become an integral part of the Blues as he made 377 appearances and scored an impressive 34 goals.

[ MORE: Grades for each PL club on January deals ]

Ivanovic featured mainly as a right back for Chelsea but also played several times in central defense. He won the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League (he scored the winner in the 2012-13 final in Amsterdam) Premier League title twice, three FA Cups and a League Cup in his glittering career in west London.

He leaves Chelsea as a legend.

With Nathan Ake and Kurt Zouma rising through the ranks, Chelsea has plenty of options to replace Ivanovic. Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta have become a force to be reckoned with in Chelsea’s three-man central defense and that’s reduced Ivanovic to 16 appearances this season.

In his 377th and final appearance for the Blues he came on as a sub in the FA Cup fourth round clash with Brentford at Stamford Bridge. He made a typical surging run from right back, rolling back the years to hammer home one last goal. Clearly emotional, Ivanovic will always be welcome back at the Bridge.

After Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech, another Chelsea legend has departed. John Terry is the last man standing…

Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Mahrez to Arsenal, Witsel to Spurs


Yes, rumors know no season, but the transfer mill will churn out a lot less gossip after Tuesday’s end of the summer transfer season.

Yet there are still a pair of days remaining in which silly season can roar through our daily lives, and Monday finds its at full throat.

Chelsea has reportedly found their answer for John Stones in adding 6-foot-4 center back Papy Djilobodji from Nantes. The 26-year-old has been a mainstay amongst Ale Bedoya’s teammates and perhaps shows where Stones fit into their plans: depth.

[ REPORT: David De Gea to Real Madrid, Navas to OT ]

Belgian star Axel Witsel could join Adnan Januzaj as countrymen to switch clubs. Tottenham is said to be quite interested in the Zenit midfielder, but face competition from a number of clubs including AC Milan.

Here’s a name to file away: Taiwo Awoniyi. The Nigerian 18-year-old has found a permanent home at Liverpool, but is heading to Frankfurt on loan.

In a case of “That looks good. I’ll have that”, Arsenal may be turning their transfer attention to red-hot Leicester City man Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian star could have his head turned by the Gunners, but is Leicester looking to challenge for the top-half of the table under Claudio Ranieri, or just to survive? And how much money would be offered?

Atletico Madrid midfielder Raul Garcia is off to Athletic Bilbao.

Zenit St. Petersburg 0-0 Monaco: Group C leaders cancel each other out

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On Wednesday the first UEFA Champions League game of the day took place up in chilly Saint Petersburg, as Russian Premier League club Zenit were held at home to a 0-0 draw by AS Monaco.

[RELATED: Champions League news]

Zenit, managed by former Chelsea and Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas, couldn’t break down a stubborn Monaco and the visitors had the best chance to seal all three points in a poor game at the Petrovsky Stadium. Zenit have scored 12 goals in their last five matches but never looked like scoring as they failed to follow up their impressive 2-0 victory away at Benfica on matchday one with a win at home.

[RELATED: Champions League schedule]

With less than 20 minutes to go Yannick Carrasco’s deflected shot clipped the foot of the post as Monaco came agonizingly close to taking the lead. Zenit brought on veterans Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Andrey Arshavin late in the game to try and grab a winner but Monaco looked more likely to grab the victory as Fabinho struck wide and was a nuisance down the right hand side. The Ligue 1 side will be much happier as they return to the Principality with a valuable point in Group C as both teams are joint-top on four points.

[RELATED: Champions League standings]

Benfica and Bayer Leverkusen square off in the other game in Group C on Wednesday, as they now a win will put them just one point behind front-runners Zenit and Monaco. Monaco now face Benfica home and away in their next two games, while Zenit play Bayer Leverkusen twice in pivotal matches. 

On this showing, both sides will have to play much better to advance to the last 16 of the Champions League but in a fairly weak group it may be enough.

WATCH: Bart Simpson joins FC Zenit on deadline day; Greeted by AVB

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It’s theater of the absurd and, at least for this writer, it’s very very funny.

FC Zenit Saint Petersburg put out a promotional deadline day video detailing their acquisition of Bart Simpson on transfer from 20th Century Fox.

Yes, that Bart Simpson.

[RELATED: Latest transfer window news]

[VIDEO: Premier League highlights, here]

A giant, wide-eyed version of the cartoon character makes his way through FC Zenit headquarters, meeting with Andre Villas-Boas and Axel Witsel along the way.

Watch the video below:

It’s pretty great, and even had some wiseacres altering the roster section on FC Zenit’s Wikipedia page.

Ay, caramba:


André Villas-Boas back in a job, takes over at Zenit St Petersburg

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On Tuesday Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg announced that André Villas-Boas has taken over as manager on a two-year deal.

Villas-Boas, 36, joins the Russian Premier League side after being fired by Tottenham Hotspur in December, as AVB replaces Italian manager Luciano Spalletti following his departure after a 4-2 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League earlier this month.

The club released the following statement on their website, as AVB will officially be unveiled on Thursday to manage the team for the remained of the current season with the Northern Russian side in second place, three points off top spot with nine games remaining.

“Zenit has agreed terms on a contract with new head coach André Villas-Boas. The contract will be signed and Mr. Villas-Boas will be presented in St. Petersburg as Zenit’s new head coach on March 20. Mr. Villas-Boas’ contract begins in March, 2014, and is valid for two seasons.”

Is this job an upgrade from the Spurs job for the ambitious Portuguese manager?

Many would say so. Zenit are perennial challengers for the Russian top-flight, seem to have endless resources when it comes to transfer funds and also compete regularly in the Champions League. What this deal gives AVB is a chance to rebuild a club which is desperate to win titles and isn’t scared to splash the cash to do it. After having his coaching and personal credentials questioned while managing Spurs this season, then fired after Tottenham’s 5-0 defeat to Liverpool in December, Villas-Boas is keen to also rebuild his reputation in the soccer world.

At Tottenham it always seemed rather harsh to blame everything on AVB, as Sporting Director Franco Baldini had most of the say on transfers and Villas-Boas also had to sell his best player Gareth Bale. That said, this chance with Zenit is one that AVB must grab with both hands and do his best to prosper, as the man who guided FC Porto to success in Portugal will now be given the aim of following suit in Russia.

His English adventure, both with Tottenham and Chelsea, didn’t work out the way he had planned, but getting a gig at a Champions League club full of ambition and alongside players like Hulk, who he already knows well from their time at Porto together, isn’t the worst thing in the world for AVB.

Let’s see how it goes.