5 chiefs who could replace Marina Granovskaia at Chelsea amid Roman Abramovich uncertainty
CHELSEA director Marina Granovskaia’s future is uncertain as Roman Abramovich attempts to sell the club.
Roman Abramovich: His tenure at Chelsea in numbers
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s decision to sell the club is set to trigger an exodus of senior figures from the club’s hierarchy. The Russian billionaire has decided to cash in on his majority shareholding of the club due to the threat of sanctions against him, amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Abramovich will forgo the £1.5bn in loans owed to him in addition to contributing the profits from the sale to a charity dedicated to helping the victims of the war in Eastern Europe.
And the 55-year-old’s decision to sell is likely to have ramifications for those who have been loyal to him and ran the club on a day-to-bay basis.
Chairman Bruce Buck, who has been in the role since 2004, has been a trusted advisor to Abramovich for decades.
But he is likely to follow the Blues owner out of the Stamford Bridge doors in the near future as several interested parties prepare their bids, thought to be around £2.5bn for the club.
Buck’s role for Chelsea has been less front-of-house than director Marina Granovskaia. The Russian-Canadian, 40, has been handling Chelsea’s transfers and contractual business since 2014 and was recently recognised with an award for her work.
Granovskaia played an instrumental role in securing the signings of Kai Havertz and Romelu Lukaku and shares a good relationship with Thomas Tuchel.
However, Abramovich’s departure could signal the end of her time at Stamford Bridge.
Any successful takeover could mean that the club’s prospective new employers bring in a director of football or sporting director to handle Granvoskaia’s responsibilities.
Express Sport assesses five possible candidates who could fill the position if she leaves.
Cech has been employed in the role of technical director since 2019 and the former goalkeeper, who made 494 appearances for the club, would be an obvious choice to replace Granvoskaia.
While the 39-year-old is not essentially a businessman, Cech is highly articulate and has a knack for spotting talent.
When Frank Lampard was in charge, he worked with his former team-mate to find a new goalkeeper after Kepa Arrizabalaga’s struggles. Cech recommended the club sign Edouard Mendy and signed for just £22m, the Senegalese has proved to be a bargain signing.
Working closely with Granovskaia would have helped Cech learn more about the role and business side of football — and there are few people who know the club better than he.
While he is trusted by Abramovich, he does not necessarily have the same ties as Granovskaia or Buck and could be useful to the new owners during the period of transition.
There is a school of thought that, with Abramovich on his way out, Chelsea will need to be more prudent in the future under their new regime.
The 53-year-old has a proven record of working with scouts and recruitment analysts to sign obscurely-known talents before selling them on for healthy profits.
Buying young and talented players from around Europe for small fees, before selling them on for profit via the loan system, has been a successful system for the Blues for some time. And no person would be more suited to that role than Sevilla’s transfer guru Monchi.
Perhaps the Spaniard may be reluctant to leave the La Liga club again after his failed experiment working with AS Roma between 2017 and 2019.
But working for the European champions and signing a higher calibre of players may prove to be too tempting to turn down.
A similar operator to Monchi, Campos is an expert in unearthing talent that can be sold on for massive profit.
The Portuguese earned his reputation in the transfer market when he worked at AS Monaco. Campos was the key man in recruiting a number of players for modest fees — including Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar and Fabinho — before selling on for fees above £40m.
He carried on his fine work in Ligue 1 when he took up a director of football role at Lille, recruiting Jonathan David, Sven Botman and Nicolas Pepe for the club on a modest budget — and deserved his share of credit for the club’s incredible title win in 2020-21.
Campos has experience of working with high-profile figures before, having worked at Real Madrid with Jose Mourinho.
He was wanted by Granovskaia in 2019 but stayed loyal to Lille, who he left a year later. Now still unattached, Campos may relish the chance to work on a new project in England.
It takes a patient and intelligent person to work on transfers with Jose Mourinho, but Tiago Pinto managed to get through the summer window without falling out with his compatriot.
The AS Roma general manager was influential in overseeing the Giallorossi’s biggest spend in a transfer window, with Tammy Abraham, Roger Ibanez and Eldor Shomurodov arriving through the Stadio Olimpico doors.
But transfers is not Pinto’s only speciality. At Benfica, he established a high quality youth programme which was responsible for producing the likes of Renato Sanches, Joao Felix and Ruben Dias in recent years.
Chelsea’s academy pool is one of the most talented in the world thanks to Abramovich’s investment and Pinto may be the ideal figure to ensure the Blues continue to get the best out of their home-grown talent.
It would take an incredible offer to lure Marotta from Inter Milan, given his power at the club, but the Italian has proved to be one of the shrewdest operators in the transfer market in recent times.
Granvoskaia would know, too, as she authorised the club-record £97.5m signing of Romelu Lukaku from Inter last summer after weeks of tough negotiations with Marotta.
The Inter supremo swooped to sign Edin Dzeko as a short-term replacement for a nominal fee and the Bosnian has been in fine form, scoring 10 goals in the Serie A this season.
His time at Juventus was perhaps more indicative of how his leadership can turn a crisis club into a successful one, with the club’s dominance of Serie A producing eight consecutive Scudettos.
Chelsea may need some guidance when Abramovich leaves after 19 years at the helm and Marotta, as an experienced CEO, would be a fine appointment.
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