Chelsea chief Granovskaia talks ‘tough decisions’ (VIDEO)

Roman Abramovich’s chief negotiator at Chelsea, Marina Granovskaia, has spoken of a “difficult year” after being named the Best Club Director in European football.

The Russian-Canadian was handed the prestigious gong at the Golden Boy awards in Turin, where Barcelona midfielder Pedri won the top prize and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski was named Golden Player.

Granovskaia was recognized after Chelsea won their second Champions League title by beating Manchester City in Porto in May. The famously savvy businesswoman has been credited with overseeing the signings of stars such as $95 million Germany midfielder Kai Havertz, who scored the only goal in the final, as well as having a hand in the astute appointment of manager Thomas Tuchel the previous January following the sacking of club legend Frank Lampard.

On the podium collecting her trophy, though, she dedicated the win to everyone at Stamford Bridge in tough times amid the pandemic.

“It was a season we will not forget in a hurry,” Granovskaia said of a campaign in which Chelsea played behind closed doors for months as a result of the pandemic, even opening the doors of their Stamford Bridge home to UK National Health Service staff under the guidance of billionaire Russian chairman Abramovich.

“It was a difficult year with some tough decisions we had to make, but we won the Champions League for the second time, then the Super Cup – and the Women’s team were very successful too, also getting to the Champions League final, winning the Super League and the FA Cup. We are very pleased with how the year went.”

Granovskaia alluded to her strong partnership with Abramovich and the significant changes made to Chelsea’s squad and coaching staff.

“It is a team sport and, in the boardroom, it is just as much of a team sport as on the pitch,” she explained.

“None of this success would be possible without the right players, the right coaches, but also the right support staff, both at the stadium and at the training ground, and the environment they create for success.

“All of this was achieved under difficult circumstances for both the club and our supporters during the pandemic. A great season but we are, of course, already looking towards the next challenges.”

After Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-0 at Wembley to win the Women’s FA Cup earlier this month, boss Emma Hayes revealed the keen interest Granovskaia and her boss show in the team.

“She said it was the best she has ever seen us play,” Hayes said after the victory at Wembley Stadium.

“She can see the team improving and Roman Abramovich has sent his congratulations. I know he is an avid fan and I know he really enjoyed the performance.”

Abramovich, who made a long-awaited return to the UK last month, has hosted the women’s team on a trip they made to Israel, where he has dual nationality.

Granovskaia is said to have told awards organizers Tuttosport that there “isn’t a secret to Chelsea’s successes”. 

“Or at least, I don’t know it,” she admitted. “Otherwise, it would be easier to win year by year.

“But I know that there is daily teamwork and communication behind every success. Chelsea are a great team on and off the pitch.”

Agent Federico Pastorello, who guided Romelu Lukaku’s $129.5 million move from Inter Milan to Chelsea at the end of last season, told the outlet that Granovskaia “deserves the best”.

“She is very serious – she never bluffs,” he added, predicting that the feared Belgium striker will one day return to Italian top flight Serie A.

German website Transfermarkt reported that Granovskaia has played a key role in player sales worth $1.13 billion since 2011, giving Chelsea a transfer income that is only slightly behind established selling clubs Atletico Madrid and Benfica.

Currently third in the Premier League table and five points behind leaders Manchester City, Chelsea are fighting for their first English top flight win in four years.

Tuchel’s side have advanced to the knockout phase in their Champions League title defense, which will continue with a Round of 16 tie against French club Lille in February.

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