Potential Liverpool departure highlights the importance of Chelsea’s big transfer market weapon

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Search Marina Granovskia’s name on Chelsea’s official website and you will find a short biography – 146 words to be exact – published in 2018 that outlines what her role as director at Stamford Bridge entails.

It reads: “Marina Granovskaia was born in Russia and is a dual Russian and Canadian national. She graduated in 1997 from Moscow State University with honours and the same year started her career at Sibneft, the oil company formerly owned by Roman Abramovich.

“She has worked closely with Mr. Abramovich as a senior adviser over the last 18 years, looking after his various assets and interests.

“She moved from the Russian capital to London shortly after the acquisition of Chelsea Football Club in 2003 and since 2010 has acted as a representative of the owner at the club and in support of the board of directors. She joined the board of Chelsea FC plc and the Football Club Board in June 2013 and is mainly responsible for player transactions.

“In addition to being a native Russian speaker, Granovskaia is fluent in English and speaks several other European languages.”

It’s rather unassuming, isn’t it? Certainly, it doesn’t do justice to how important Granovskaia is at Chelsea, doesn’t give the impression of a woman many perceive to be the most powerful in European football.

There’s very little at Chelsea that happens without Granovskaia knowing. She is Abramovich’s most trusted lieutenant, handles all of the club’s transfer and contract negotiations personally, oversees the hiring and firing of head coaches, and has been pivotal in striking big-money commercial deals.

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“She is basically the power at Chelsea. Roman trusts her implicitly,” a source at Chelsea told the Evening Standard in 2014. “She’s not interested in being a celebrity but there is no doubt who’s in charge and who calls the shots.”

Granovskaia has never conducted an interview during her time at Chelsea. Abramovich will undoubtedly appreciate that given how private he is.

Those who have held meetings with Granovskaia speak of her charm, her civility. Yet when it comes to business, she is a fierce – almost comprising – negotiator who always attempts to extract maximum value.

There have been mistakes, such as signing Kepa Arrizabalga for a world-record fee for a goalkeeper (£71million). However, Granovskaia’s ability to continuously bring in money to Chelsea through player sales is almost unrivalled across Europe.

Per transfermarkt, Chelsea have generated almost £700m since the start of the 2015/16 campaign through the departures of players. That is £200m more than any other Premier League club and has enabled the Blues to spend big on signings.

Last summer, there was the addition of Kai Havertz for £70m. The arrival of Ben Chilwell for £50m. And the acquisition of Timo Werner for £50m. This time around, Romelu Lukaku was brought in from Inter Milan for a club-record fee of £97.5m.

The Blues don’t work to a strict transfer strategy per se; there is no holistic approach that is rigidly stuck to. Of course, young players with resale value are preferable. But as shown with Lukaku, the club are willing to bring in the finished product where needed.

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That is very different from Liverpool, for example. Over the past decade, the Reds have rebuilt themselves as a major European force. Jurgen Klopp has naturally played a huge role in that, but so has sporting director Michael Edwards, who arrived in 2011 from Tottenham Hotspur.

Edwards, who has always kept a low profile on Merseyside, started out as head of performance and analysis at Anfield. He was then promoted to director of technical performance, technical director, and finally became sporting director in 2016.

It was under Edwards and his analysis team that the Reds signed Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson and other key players. It was with him as sporting director and Klopp as head coach that the Reds won the Champions League and Premier League title.

So the news today he may leave Liverpool at the end of the campaign will have certainly raised an eyebrow or two across Premier League boardrooms, even though it’s understood assistant sporting director Julian Ward has taken on greater responsibility over the past year.

Chelsea are unlikely to face such a problem with Granovskaia. And that means the Blues will remain one of the strongest clubs in the transfer market.

Source by Football London

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