Where are they now? Granovskaia’s first 10 signings as Chelsea director

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Chelsea's Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas celebrating the goal vs West Brom. Stamford Bridge, London. December 2016

Chelsea’s Executive Director Marina Granovskaia is reportedly set to leave the club if Roman Abramovich is able to complete his proposed sale. But even if she does leave, Granovskaia’s legacy and reputation, built through strong management and good recruitment, will remain intact.

Graovskaia has earned herself accalim as one of European football’s top administrators since becoming Chelsea’s Executive Director in January 2014, dealing with some massive transfers in that time.

Under the ‘Iron Lady’, Chelsea have seen an exceptionally high turnover of players. And her abilities to negotiate a sale and spot a bargain have been a key reason for Chelsea’s recent success.

However, for every successful N’Golo Kante or Antonio Rudiger, there have been some disastrous purchases, as well as sales that the club would later regret.

Six managers have now worked under Graovskaia in eight years, and while Thomas Tuchel has worked well with her strategy of control, others such as Frank Lampard and Antonio Conte were reportedly unhappy at her influence over signings.

But Chelsea have won six major trophies since she took her current role, meaning she have done something right. We’ve taken a look at her 10 first signings to see how they fared.

Bertrand Traore

Traore actually had a trial at Chelsea two years before his official arrival, but was confirmed as Granovskaia’s first transfer, signing a four-and-a-half-year deal in January 2014. He would play 10 league games for the club, scoring twice, before departing for Lyon after two loan spells.

The winger was impressive in three years at Lyon, such that Aston Villa paid £17million for his services in September 2020. He has played 42 league games for the Midlands side.

Nemanja Matic

The Serbian midfield powerhouse was one of a number of players who have had two spells at the club. Initially sold to Benfica in a swap deal for David Luiz in January 2011, Granovskaia made it a priority to bring Matic back, and signed him for £21million.

Matic was brilliant in his second spell at Chelsea, earning a place in the 2014-15 PFA Team of the Season and winning two League titles before departing for Manchester United for £40m in 2017.

Over three years of great performances followed by a large profit, this was one of Granovskaia’s very best deals.

Mohamed Salah

Probably Chelsea’s biggest regret, the Egyptian winger was highly rated at FC Basel, and Chelsea brought him to England for £11million in January 2014.

After scoring one league goal for the club, in a 6-0 demolition of Arsenal, and struggling to get into the team under Jose Mourinho, he was loaned out to Fiorentina and Roma, before joining the latter permanently for around £13million.

That £2million profit may have seemed decent enough at the time, but it is now laughable.

Not many could have predicted that Salah would eventually become one of the Premier League’s greatest-ever players at Liverpool, but there will always be a sense of ‘what could have been’ when Granovskaia thinks of this deal.

Salah has had the last laugh, with multiple goals against the team who deemed him not good enough.

Kurt Zouma

The French centre-back was coveted all over Europe as a teenage prodigy, often called the next Rafael Varane, and it was Chelsea who secured a deal for him in January 2014, immediately loaning him back to Saint-Etienne.

After a few loan spells, Zouma became a solid defender, but was sold to West Ham in the summer of 2021 for £30million. A tidy profit for a player in a position where Chelsea are well stocked.

Cesc Fabregas

Signed in the first summer window of Granovskaia’s reign, the former Arsenal captain wanted to leave Barcelona in search of more playing time. Arsenal were heavily linked with the Spanish midfielder but it was Chelsea who ended up landing him for around £30million.

It was money well spent, as Fabregas racked up 18 assists in his first season in blue as Chelsea strolled to the title. Fabregas spent four and a half years at Chelsea, winning two titles, before joining Monaco in 2019.

His Chelsea debut also saw one of the great Premier League assists.

Diego Costa

Goals. Fights. Character. Aggression. Diego Costa had it all. And after leading Atletico Madrid to a shock La Liga title and Champions League final, he joined Chelsea in the summer of 2014 to replace the outgoing Fernando Torres.

The Brazillian-born Spaniard hit great heights in west London, scoring 52 league goals in 89 games, winning two titles, and managing to wind up Arsenal on multiple occasions. It was all going well for Costa before he fell out with Antonio Conte and returned to Atletico.

After a spell back in Brazil with a different Atletico, Costa is now looking for a club, with Corinthians reportedly closing in on his signature.

Granovskaia, for her part, managed to turn a large profit on the striker, who was on the decline at the time of his departure. This can be considered a successful deal all around.

READ: 11 of Diego Costa’s best sh*thouse moments: Ramos, Gabriel, Can & more

Filipe Luis

At the time, snapping up one of the world’s best left-backs from Atletico Madrid for £18million to replace Ashley Cole looked to be one of the bargains of the 2014 window.

However, Jose Mourinho’s insistence on using right-back Cesar Azpilicueta at left-back meant there was no room for the Brazillian, who returned to Atletico just one year later for £14million. He now plays for Flamengo back in Brazil.

A £4million loss and no memorable moments, this was not one of Granovskaia’s shrewd finds.

Loic Remy

After failing a medical at Liverpool earlier in the summer, many were surprised when Chelsea opted to sign Loic Remy from West London rivals QPR after a successful loan at Newcastle.

Activating his £10.5million release clause, Remy was brought in as cover for Diego Costa following the departures of Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o.

Remy did what was asked of him, playing a rotational role, but did score some crucial goals as Chelsea won the title in his first season. After two seasons he was eventually loaned out and released. For that price, there can’t be too many complaints.

In January 2022, Remy signed for Adana Demirspor.

Didier Drogba

The Chelsea legend, who left the club in 2012, returned to his old stomping ground on a free transfer from Galatasary in the summer of 2014, to provide additional attacking cover alongside Loic Remy.

Scoring four league goals in his one season back, there was nothing to lose by having the veteran around, before his eventual departure to Montreal Impact in MLS.

Since retiring, he has taken ambassadorial roles for the UN and Peace and Sport.

READ: We still can’t believe how good Didier Drogba was in cup finals for Chelsea

Juan Cuadrado

Not Granovskaia’s finest deal, Chelsea parted with £23.5million and sent Salah to Fiorentina on loan in exchange for Cuadrado in January 2015, but the winger failed to adapt, and after 13 league games and zero goals, Cuadrado was sent packing.

He was loaned out and eventually sold to Juventus for around £20million, meaning not too much financial damage was done, but Cuadrado to this day remains one of Chelsea and Granovskaia’s more questionable deals.


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