Chelsea were not able to register any new players this summer and they still had a better window than most of their rivals. Marina Granovskaia expertly guided the club to maximize value and trim the bloat.
Chelsea’s transfer and loan deals over the last few years have left plenty to be desired. Various managers have asked for top shelf players only to receive back-up options who never stood a chance of making it as Blues, and never did. However, without the ability to buy new players, the club were precluded from making any new mistakes. Instead, Marina Granovskaia oversaw one of the smartest transfer windows the club have had in some time.
1. Maximizing transfer fee for Eden Hazard
Everyone knew the end was in sight for Eden Hazard’s career as a Blue. He entered the 2018/19 season with two years left on his contract. He had already been linked with Real Madrid on and off for years, and not spuriously – his flirtations with Los Blancos were never subtle. Zinedine Zidane’s departure from Real bought Chelsea some time, but his return restarted the original countdown.
Real Madrid held most of the leverage heading into the summer window. They wanted the move. The player wanted the move. If the Blues couldn’t reach an agreement, they would lose him for free next summer. Whereas Chelsea may have held off selling Hazard last summer on the premise of making a deep run in Europe (albeit the Europa League), there was little such fodder for discussions of opportunity heading into a season with a transfer ban, a crop of young players and another new manager.
Real Madrid could have named just about any price, and a weak Chelsea could have wearily accepted on the premise that it was better than the nothing they would get in a year’s time.
Instead, Marina Granovskaia finagled around £90 million up front for the transfer fee, with bonuses that could bring Chelsea’s income towards £130 million.
Hazard was Chelsea’s most valuable player in football and financial terms for the last few seasons, and never more than last season. He had his highest offensive output in the Premier League – a testament to his selfless “selfishness” – helping preserve Chelsea’s place in the top four while lending a hand to the Europa League title.
Chelsea will get what they deserved for Hazard, but that was far from assured until Marina Granovskaia made it so.