Chelsea's unsung hero has been 'fantastic', says Blues legend

Paulo Ferreira has praised Branislav Ivanovic’s incredible form for Chelsea.

Ivanovic has stepped up his game at the beginning of this campaign, holding his place in the starting XI despite the arrival of Filipe Luis.

With head coach Jose Mourinho’s praise of Cesar Azpilicueta, many expected Luis to claim the left-back role for his own, with the Spaniard moving over to displace Ivanovic at right-back. However, the former central defender has excelled as an attacking full-back, scoring two goals in 11 games, and playing at least one key pass every game. His attacking runs down the right flank have been a key part of the Blues successful play this season, but he has often been overlooked when receiving of praise.

Azpilicueta, John Terry, and Gary Cahill have been highly lauded by the press, and the attacking threats of Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard have been well worthy of their praise. However, Ivanovic is constantly overlooked - except by the people involved at Stamford Bridge - and one former Chelsea legend has been impressed with the Serbian international this season.

Quoted by the official Chelsea website, former right-back Paulo Ferreira - who was ousted from the Blues starting XI by Ivanovic in the 2011/12 season - praised the 30-year-old as a ‘fantastic’ all-round full-back.

The 35-year-old Portuguese retiree said: “Branislav Ivanovic has also been fantastic so far.

“He has had a really good season and is a top player. Defensively he is very strong and it’s very difficult to beat him, but he’s also good in attack and can score goals as well.

“He’s a very consistent player.”

Ferreira lost his place in the starting line-up at Stamford Bridge following the appointment of Andre Villas-Boas in 2011. Whilst he made just a handful of appearances in his last two seasons with the club, he is considered something of a club legend for his consistent displays and his professionalism to perform when called upon despite his constant exclusion from the team. Ivanovic has followed the same example left by Ferreira, and it is no surprise to see the Portuguese defender praise his fellow right-back - with both often overlooked when celebrating the truly great players in the Premier League.

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