Marina Granovskaia proves her transfer brilliance again as Romelu Lukaku close to Chelsea return – Football.London

There is a good reason Marina Granovskaia has been labelled the “iron lady” in recent seasons, and it is because of her brilliant work to secure the best deal for Chelsea Football Club.

In recent weeks, the Chelsea director has come under fire from some corners of social media for the club’s supposed inaction in the transfer market, with rumoured deals for Erling Haaland not showing much progress in some eyes. Added to that a host of players on Chelsea’s books to ship out and the shock sales of young talents, it has been easy for some minds to fear a repeat of the mistakes of previous transfer windows.

Though over the last week, Chelsea have efficiently moved to re-sign Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan for a reported club-record fee of £97million. It is a critical piece of business for Thomas Tuchel’s Champions League-winning squad ahead of the new season.

Apart from the proven quality and statement of acquiring such a talent, it is a deal that further proves why Granovskaia is vital to the way Chelsea successfully navigate the transfer market and aim to stay competitive, whilst balancing the club’s finances in shrewd fashion.

It appears a lot of the criticism that is directed Granovskaia’s way comes from a misunderstanding of what the Russian-Canadian’s role actually entails. Despite her importance to Roman Abramovich’s hierarchy, Granovskaia plays little role in the club’s scouting department to find potential new players for the first-team squad. Her primary role is negotiating, and since taking up the role in 2014 her work has been widely appreciated as some of the best in football.

The major sales for Alvaro Morata to Atletico Madrid for £60m and Eden Hazard to Real Madrid for £89m – that could exceed £150m – were key for Chelsea’s future plan. Those major deals set up a summer of spending in 2020 which saw the arrivals of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva.

Marina Granovskaia's work to secure big fees for Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata were vital in enabling Chelsea's major expenditure last summer. (Image: Denis Doyle/Getty Images).
Marina Granovskaia’s work to secure big fees for Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata were vital in enabling Chelsea’s major expenditure last summer. (Image: Denis Doyle/Getty Images).

The clamour for Haaland online has been palpable for months as Chelsea reportedly looked to see how feasible a transfer for the Borussia Dortmund forward was. When stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, it is easy to see why the choice to go for Lukaku makes more sense for Chelsea’s model.

Despite being a club-record fee for Lukaku, any deal for Haaland would have likely gone north of £150m, making it at least the third biggest transfer in history. There is no getting around super-agent Mino Raiola’s influence looming over the signing of the Norwegian. Add the extra fees on top for Chelsea, who have been resistant to deal with Raiola in previous windows, and that exorbitant fee just gets bigger.

Once signed, it is not too extreme to suggest we would likely hear more from Raiola, who is known to be very vocal about his players in the press. It is a headache Granovskaia and Chelsea have swerved before, so it would not be surprising if this played a factor again.

Given Haaland’s young age, there is an argument his longevity and resale value would have exceeded Lukaku on both fronts, given the Belgian is entering the later years of his career. However, there is no guarantee Haaland’s long-term desires would remain at Stamford Bridge and he could be turned by the prospect of wearing the white shirt of Real Madrid or the further riches of Paris-Saint Germain down the line.

Romelu Lukaku has agreed a club-record switch to return to Chelsea from Inter Milan.

Lukaku’s age means you are getting the finished article of a forward who is ready to make an instant impact, similar to that of Diego Costa in 2014. The big plus for Lukaku is his proven goalscoring record in the Premier League before leaving for Inter in the summer of 2019. A total of 113 in 252 appearances across his time at West Brom, Everton and Manchester United demonstrates a proven goal scorer.

Players arriving from the Bundesliga like Kai Havertz and especially Timo Werner have shown there is an adaptation period given the differences in style between Germany and England. With Lukaku there is little of that to be overly concerned about given his profile and previous history in the league.

Granovskia has signed a player who sees Stamford Bridge as his dream destination. Entering the third act of his career, Lukaku appeared content with life in Italy and had grown into a more mature character, where money is not the be-all and end-all. Chelsea was the one club left emotionally to make him reconsider his place at the San Siro.

Tuchel is getting an elite forward who will see Chelsea as his big priority and the place he wants to be. Given the way Robert Lewandowski continues to perform at a high level at the age of 32, there is nothing to stop Lukaku giving the club years of top-quality service beyond what Haaland could have offered.

The wage structure of the club is another factor that Granovskia has to consider before committing such finance on a major transfer. There was a potential that the numbers for Haaland would have obliterated the current structure and subsequently caused issues for the club when trying to re-negotiate with existing players for new contracts. As reports suggest they are currently doing with Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho.

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The sales for the likes of Fikayo Tomori, Marc Guehi, Tino Livramento, Lewis Bate and Myles Peart-Harris have made Chelsea money to reinvest on the deals supporters are so eager to see. It is the policy that has Granovskia has stuck too, and has mainly been successful.

Transfers are a complicated business and it can be easy to be swept up in the daily rumour mill on social media and get frustrated with a lack of movement. However, supporters should be grateful to have Granovskaia in such a prominent role at the club. Someone who time and again manages to secure deals that not only improve the first team, but are in the best interest of the overall health of Chelsea.

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