In his latest article for the Fancast, Dean Mears declares his support for Marina Granovskaia.
Ever since Michael Emenalo’s shock and sudden departure from his role as Technical Director, the virgins of Chelsea Twitter have needed a new figure to loathe to compensate for their unrealised FIFA fantasies.
As the person in charge of ‘negotiations,’ Marina Granovskaia has become an easy target. However, as football’s most powerful woman, Marina is the best in the business and deserves our respect and admiration. When Roman Abramovich took over 15 years ago, he heralded a new era in English football. With an unlimited chequebook, Chelsea began to spend, and we spent big. Other clubs knew that Chelsea had money to burn and given our quite weak negotiation position, we often overpaid for new signings.
Fast forward to the current day and Chelsea are running a very different business. Free spending is a distant memory, and we operate on an almost sell-to-buy level. Correspondingly, the second part of Marina’s job is so important.
First and foremost, Marina job is to negotiate deals for first team signings. To bring in new players identified by the scouting network and the manager. Her second role is to negotiate the purchase of younger players who are cheap and the sale of those in the infamous loan army. Following Kenneth Omeruo’s loan move to Leganes, we now sit at 31 loanees this season.
Of that 31, I would say less than five are being considered as future first-team players. The rest will be sold for huge profits and help fund future signings. Something that Marina is exceptionally good at.
Let’s use our midfield as an example; if we lined up with Jorginho (£54m) Kante (£32m) and Barkley (£15m) – the trio that started against Huddersfield – it would be valued at £101million. Just £10million more than United paid Juventus (and his agent) for Paul Pogba. Critics of the board will pick out the list of the last 29 signings. Admittedly, the list doesn’t make for particularly pleasant reading. But when you consider the context of the signings, it starts to appear reasonable.
Most make up the depth of our first team squad, while the rest are either on loan or have already been sold at a profit. Something that Marina never seems to get credit for is the fees we receive for players deemed surplus to requirements at the club. A decent example is the loan deal for Bakayoko. A £40 million signing last season, it never seemed to work out for the Frenchman. And, new manager Sarri has decided that he doesn’t fit into his plans this season. Marina has negotiated a £5m loan deal with AC Milan, with an option to buy at £35m, recouping all the money spent on a failed transfer.
In her first season a director in 2014, saw Chelsea purchase the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Filipe Luis, Diego Costa and Juan Cuadrado, for a combined fee of £108m. Marina’s dealings in selling players, including £50m for David Luiz from PSG, brought in £112m. Chelsea went on to win the title at a £4m profit.
On the list of 29 signings, most are sent on loan to raise their transfer value, allowing us to be able to spend the money which has seen us win the title in 2 out of the four seasons that Marina has been more heavily involved.
We may get criticised for our army of loan players. But it’s a system that works for us. The arrival of Guy Laurence as Chief Executive, and Chris Townsend as Commercial Director has seen an immediate impact with the number of commercial deals being done, and this may make Marina’s workload easier with more money come in. The rise of FFP has meant that sadly, all clubs need an official noodle provided. That’s the sad truth about modern football.
And unfortunately, another sad truth is that twitter virgins and idiots posting selfie videos are used in the media as representatives of the football club. Another critical point, often made by JK on the Fancast, is that for all the talk of the “Chelsea board”, only one man makes the decisions, and that’s Roman.
So, when you’re criticising Marina for not spending hundreds of millions every transfer window or failing to get a list of “reported transfer targets”, just remember who makes that final decision.
The truth is, that Marina does a fantastic job and that we are so fortunate to have her. Football isn’t like FIFA or Football Manager, it’s a business, and we’re running a highly successful one.
What are your thoughts? Let us know!
Written by Dean Mears – @DeanMears