AJust a week ago, Marina Granovskaia told soccer figures that she had not decided if she would continue working for the new owners of Chelsea. Granovskaia was as active as ever in discussions with agents about possible signings, and despite the director’s long-standing ties to Roman Abramovich, there was a feeling that any announcement about her future would be unlikely until the window of the film ended. transfer.
All that changed on Monday morning. First came the announcement that Bruce Buck, another Abramovich associate, had agreed to step down as president. Then, in a development that took some people by surprise, it emerged that Granovskaia would indeed be the next high-profile exit. Ties with the previous regime were being severed, and although there were initially suggestions that Granovskaia would keep her job until the end of August, by the end of the day she was told by multiple sources that she would be leaving before the end of the week.
After all, why stay? When Internazionale opened talks to sign Romelu Lukaku on loan last week, Todd Boehly was leading the negotiations on behalf of Chelsea. Boehly, Chelsea’s new co-controlling co-owner, has been involved since the takeover of his consortium and, in a notable change from the way business was often done under Granovskaia’s watch, the American made rapid progress in talks with Inter. , with an agreement on the terms of Lukaku’s loan came on Tuesday night.
There was no attempt at a face-saving exercise. Granovskaia, not Boehly, was responsible for spending £97.5m on Lukaku last summer. The logic was simple: Lukaku wanted out after a disastrous season and Thomas Tuchel was never going to get in the striker’s way, so Boehly backed his head coach and made a deal that should allow Chelsea to shift their focus on building. a team capable of challenging for major honors next season.
At the moment, however, the idea of Chelsea catching up with Manchester City and Liverpool in one window seems unlikely. There are gaps to fill on defense, upgrades are needed on offense, and there isn’t much time to act before the season starts. Tuchel, who gets on well with Granovskaia, could use the players arriving sooner rather than later.
It means the spotlight is already on Boehly and his fellow owners. On Wednesday morning it was confirmed that Granovskaia, who dealt with player transfers and contracts, is leaving. A club statement revealing figures at the new board said Granovskaia would offer assistance for the duration of this transfer window, “to the extent necessary to support the transition”, and stated that Boehly, who has no experience of the inner workings of European players. football, would operate as Chelsea’s interim sporting director until a full-time replacement is found.
Talk about jumping in the deep end. “Boehly clearly believes in himself and is obviously a very smart man,” says a figure with deep knowledge of the transfer market. “But soccer is different from any other business.”
It is a fair comment. The intention remains for Chelsea to find a sporting director – Andrea Berta could fit in well if they get it from Atletico Madrid and there have been links with Michael Edwards, who is leaving Liverpool – but the situation is not ideal. Boehly is learning on the job and, in addition to achieving Tuchel’s goals, he must also hold talks with Petr Cech to give the technical and performance advisor reassurance about his role.
Cech can be forgiven if he is reflecting on his future. However, Boehly needs to avoid too many complications in one summer. Chelsea have not competed for the title since 2017 and lag behind City, who have bought Erling Haaland, and Liverpool, who have replaced Sadio Mané with Darwin Núñez.
City and Liverpool, unlike Chelsea, have been able to get their core business done quickly. There are no glaring weaknesses in their squads, even if City remain interested in bringing in a left back and additional midfield coverage. Both have recruited efficiently and Chelsea, who must also be wary of Tottenham making moves on Antonio Conte, have plenty of ground to make up.
The change in ownership offers the west London club the opportunity to adopt a more considered recruitment model. Tuchel’s team is not made in his image. While City and Liverpool have tended to buy playable players with Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp respectively, Chelsea have been more spread out. They have spent a lot of money, but is there a football identity? A clear style of play? Or has Tuchel simply been using his tactical experience to make the most of a talented but lopsided group?
Boehly can introduce a different approach. He can back up Tuchel and make him as powerful as Guardiola and Klopp. He can shake off the short-term, ruthless culture that has gradually turned Chelsea into a highly effective team.
However, there is much to do this summer. Chelsea can’t face the season with their central defender options of Thiago Silva, who turns 38 in September, and the inexperienced trio of Malang Sarr, Levi Colwill and Trevoh Chalobah, especially if Cesar Azpilicueta is let go to Barcelona . A situation that could have been avoided by keeping Marc Guéhi or Fikayo Tomori last summer, given that Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rüdiger were running out of deals, needs to be addressed quickly; Interest in defenders such as Sevilla’s Jules Koundé and RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol must be acted upon.
Chelsea have to be decisive. In midfield, they must consider whether to switch to N’Golo Kanté or Jorginho, both out of contract next year, and bring in a younger alternative. In attack they must try to attract worthwhile offers from inconsistent players like Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.
The lack of cruelty has been a problem with Tuchel, whose attacking problems are not due solely to Lukaku. The technician wants to refine in the last third. He is chasing Raheem Sterling from City, whose stats are impressive, and he likes Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembélé, who is interested in joining Chelsea for free. Everton’s Richarlison and Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku are other targets, and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski would be a dream signing for Tuchel.
However, Lewandowski favors Barcelona and is being heavily pursued by Paris Saint-Germain. Reachable strikers are few and far between, especially with Haaland at City, Nunez at Liverpool and Harry Kane out of reach at Spurs. Chelsea could be forced to relent and, after testing Lukaku as a target, there is a feeling that Tuchel could move on to a more agile attack, with Kai Havertz continuing to operate as a false 9 and creative players buzzing around the German.
That could work. It could make Chelsea more unpredictable and exciting. Or, given that City and Liverpool have just signed glamorous No. 9s, it could leave Tuchel’s side with no reliable finalists. The problem, in the end, is that there are so many unknowns in the club. It’s been a dizzying few months and the pieces continue to fall into place. It’s time to get to work.