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22 Feb, 2022 11:35

Chelsea transfer queen Granovskaia ‘uncompromising but cultured’ – report

A profile by French outlet L'Equipe has painted Marina Granovskaia as an uncompromising negotiator
Chelsea transfer queen Granovskaia ‘uncompromising but cultured’ – report

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia has earned a reputation as being one of football's sternest negotiators and someone who is unafraid of clashing with some of the sport's most powerful figures, according to a profile of the Russian-Canadian executive by French outlet L'Equipe.

The lengthy portrait of Chelsea's managing director paints the 47-year-old Granovskaia as Roman Abramovich's chief lieutenant, someone who relentlessly pursues the signatures of some of world football's most sought-after stars and often clashing with some of the game's so-called super-agents like Mino Raiola.

Raiola, who counts the likes of Erling Haaland and Paul Pogba among his star-studded list of clients, is said in the profile to have engaged in tense transfer battles with Granovskaia on numerous occasions.

L'Equipe also say that Granovskaia is constantly working on behalf of both Abramovich and Chelsea, with other unnamed agents saying that she contacts them at "impossible times" using the messaging service WhatsApp.

Granovskaia, who joined up with Abramovich at Chelsea in 2013, was initially presumed to have been someone who would have been a soft touch in the transfer market, the piece says, but her savvy negotiation skills soon became apparent when she duelled with a host of Europe's elite clubs to sign some of Chelsea's biggest names – more often than not at very competitive prices.

Her role at Chelsea has also expanded in recent years after visa difficulties forced Roman Abramovich to stay away from London and take a more hands-off role in club operations. 

But contrary to her stern reputation at the negotiation table, L'Equipe say that Granovskaia has earned the respect of her peers not just at Chelsea but across European football as a whole.

"When you know her, you discover someone nice, funny and very cultured," said Olivier Letang, president of French side Lille. 

The relationship between Granovskaia and Abramovich extends far beyond their time in West London. She initially worked as Abramovich's assistant at his oil company, Sibneft, in 1997 before being installed at Chelsea following Abramovich's purchase of the Premier League team in 2003. 

Ten years later, Granovskaia was on the board of a Chelsea side who were European Champions and was declared by The Times as being "the most powerful woman in football".

She was subsequently ranked by American business magazine Forbes as the fifth most powerful woman in international sports. She was also named as the Best Club Director in European football last December.

Among Granovskaia's most notable recent deals was the free transfer signing of Brazil captain Thiago Silva who signed for the club in 2020 and played a crucial role in helping Chelsea to last season's Champions League title. 

She was also praised for selling star man Eden Hazard to Real Madrid for a colossal fee reported to be £134 million despite the Belgian star having just one year left on his Chelsea contract at the time. 

Granovskaia was also crucial in persuading Thomas Tuchel to take up the reins at Chelsea a year ago after the club moved to axe former boss Frank Lampard – a decision which would eventually lead to Chelsea claiming their second Champions League crown months later. 

Among her current tasks at Chelsea is persuading the soon to be out of contract duo of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen to sign new deals at the club and ward off the attentions of the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona – and one suspects that if terms are agreed, they will only come at a price acceptable to Chelsea and the club's Russian financier.

If not, the ruthless Granovskaia will likely have little problem in shipping them out rather than shattering the club's carefully crafted pay structure.