F365 says: Lukaku the ‘now’ in greater Granovskaia plot

Date published: Tuesday 10th August 2021 8:49 - Will Ford

Granovskaia Chelsea

It’s no longer ‘Chelsea chief’ but ‘Granovskaia’. The Lukaku deal is further proof of her transfer wizardry at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea fans will be well aware of the social media acclaim aimed Marina Granovskaia’s way. ‘Marina’s on it’, ‘I want to be like Marina when I grow up’ and ‘Granovskaia masterclass’ are a few of many examples of tweets acknowledging the fine work of Chelsea’s director of football.

‘The Iron Lady’ moniker is a skin-crawler. The Times had just named Granovskaia as ‘the most powerful woman in football’ and with a) power and b) woman as the operative words, who else could they have picked as an equivalent but Margaret Thatcher? Well, literally any other powerful woman. There’s got to be a better nickname.

Granovskaia has worked with Roman Abramovich since the late 90s, starting as his PA before becoming his representative at Chelsea in 2010. She’s played a major role in transfer deals at the club since then and has been the kingpin since she replaced Ron Gourlay as director in 2014. Chelsea have been the second most successful English club in that time, after Manchester City, and have the smallest net spend per trophy of any of the big six. It’s her job to buy and sell players to better enable the club to win trophies; she’s doing it quite brilliantly.

Granovskaia – who had previously been known as ‘Chelsea’ or ‘Chelsea chief’ in a media headline – is now very much ‘Granovskaia’. She will have received better compliments, but she’s definitely now click-worthy.

And those clicks have been rolling in for the last couple of weeks as Chelsea near a deal for a player that was deemed an impossibility a fortnight ago. “Romelu Lukaku is untouchable for us this summer, absolutely. He’s a key player for Inter,” Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta said. Guys, ‘Blue Steel’ has done it again.

Chelsea could recoup all the Lukaku money through player sales. And it’s this strategy – simple though it seems and should be – that the club and Granovskaia enact better any other top team in England. They of course benefit hugely from an incredibly successful academy that doles out Premier League-quality players with now stunning regularity, but also from a hard-nosed, detached approach that leaves nothing to chance, with everything geared to imminent and continuing glory.

We (well, I) wrote about the frustration at seeing Marc Guehi leave for Crystal Palace this summer. He’s a very fine footballer with an excellent future ahead of him; he could have been brilliant for Chelsea. It’s the uncertainty that’s the problem – the ‘could’. And Granovskaia has realised that although Chelsea can’t have their cake and eat it by keeping the possibles like Guehi and signing a probable like Lukaku, they can have the cake and eat it later, should they so wish.


Both Guehi and 18-year-old wing-back Valentino Livramento – who’s joined Southampton for £5million – have buyback clauses in their contracts. This is a change from what has been the norm at Chelsea, where players have been sent out on loan until they either make the grade, like Mason Mount and Reece James, or don’t, like innumerable others. The new way means that the wage bill is reduced and assets (sorry, players) that are worth little to Chelsea in the reserves can be used to buy the right foot or left nipple of Lukaku. A player that could propel Chelsea to the title now has been signed through the sale of others who could still do the same in the future.

At the last count (just now) Chelsea have a former or current player in 17 of the 20 Premier League squads. Some of those would never have played a significant role had they remained; others would have contributed to an even greater trophy haul. Chelsea have proven themselves to be above the embarrassment of admitting mistakes and re-signing former players; they’re about to do the same again – at great cost.

This change of tact now sees ‘The Lion’s Tamer’ not only working magic in offsetting the money spent in signing one of the top strikers in the world through multiple player sales, but at the same time ensuring the Stamford Bridge door remains open for the glorious, economical return of the best of those departing souls. It’s easy to see why @Thando_TooShort ‘wants to be like Marina when she grows up’ – she’s bloody brilliant.


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