Known as the Chelsea owner’s right-hand woman and “the most powerful woman in football”, Granovskaia has turned her attention to a deal that could prove the most tricky of the club’s summer targets after sealing the signing of another German star with the $66-million arrival of striker Timo Werner last month.
Chelsea have been tracking Germany prodigy Kai Havertz for weeks but are widely thought to be offering around $25 million less than top-flight Bayer Leverkusen’s $115 million asking price for the 21-year-old creative midfielder.
While Leverkusen’s sporting director Rudi Voller has insisted that Havertz will remain at Leverkusen for the forthcoming conclusion to this season’s Europa League campaign, Bild has reported that Granovskaia has contacted German player consultants in an attempt to gain an edge on Voller and chief executive Fernando Carro.
The report claims that Granovskaia, who has brokered agreements including Chelsea’s $66 million-a-season, 15-year deal with Nike, wanted to gain an advantage during bidding by learning Voller and Carro’s “weaknesses”.
Granovskaia’s office at Stamford Bridge is also said to be protected by bodyguards, kept “meticulously tidy” and equipped with English wooden furniture rather than financial flipcharts or other potential signs of transfer plans.
Klaus Allofs, the sporting executive at Bundesliga club Wolfsburg, who also dealt with Granovskaia several times during his time at Werder Bremen, offered an insight into the Russian-Canadian’s approach during deals that included a loan move to Bremen for newly-crowned Premier League Player of the Season Kevin de Bruyne in 2012.
“Marina Granovskaia enjoys the absolute trust of her boss,” explained Allofs.
“She uses her network to investigate the situation.
“She is always well prepared. If an agreement is reached, it is absolutely reliable. When negotiating, however, it is tough. This is often because she can act from the position of strength.”
Moscow-educated Granovskaia has already been on the front foot this year, sealing the signing of Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech for around $33 million and beating Liverpool to the capture of Werner, aided by the Premier League champions’ owners hesitating against the financial uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Chelsea were able to renew their spending maneuvers after their two-window transfer ban ended in January, allowing them to spend some of the fee negotiated by Granovskaia for Eden Hazard’s move to Real Madrid last summer, which could rise to more than $192 million including add-ons.
Granovskaia is said to use middlemen for transfers, working with Michael Becker, the football consultant and lawyer who helped arrange the arrival of then-Germany captain Michael Ballack in 2006, on the acquisition of Werner.
Allofs, who oversaw the $9.3 million sale of Marko Marin from Werder to Chelsea in 2012 and striker Claudio Pizarro’s move in the opposite direction, revealed that his negotiations with Granovskaia over Andre Schurrle in 2015 had gone down to the wire.
“It was a long negotiation,” he said of the $37 million deal to take the forward to Wolfsburg.
“The two clubs only agreed 15 minutes before the transfer deadline.”
Voller has told Abramovich’s former PA that there will be no “Corona bonus” that will allow Chelsea to take advantage of the market and agree a cut-price fee with Leverkusen.
“Regardless of the personnel [being] Kai Havertz, it is a different transfer period,” the former striker admitted to Kicker. “There is no new stance [from us].”
Leverkusen resume their European campaign next Thursday with a round of 16 second-leg match at home to Rangers, having won 3-1 in Glasgow, including an opening goal by Havertz from the penalty spot.
Despite Granovskaia and Chelsea’s advances, Voller described Havertz’s participation in the rest of the competition, which has a prize of Champions League football next season for the winners, as “set in stone.”