New deal for ‘back to his best’ Ivanovic

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Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink believes Branislav Ivanovic is “back to where he once was” after the defender signed a new one-year deal.

The Serbian defender, who turns 32 next month, has attracted criticism for his performances this season but has been given the chance to extend his stay at the club.

And Hiddink insisted Ivanovic, signed from Lokomotiv Moscow in January 2008, was still a key figure both on the pitch and in the dressing room.

He said: “He’s one of the main characters now in this team.

Chelsea interim boss Guus Hiddink
Guus Hiddink managed Russia when Branislav Ivanovic played there

“I knew him from my spell in Russia as well, where he played central defence at [Lokomotiv] Moscow and he went to Chelsea after that.

“He has become one of the key members of the first team. I think he is back to where he once was.”

The length of Ivanovic’s new contract is in line with Chelsea’s policy of not giving longer than 12-month deals to players over the age of 30.