As June nears its end, Chelsea are still to complete a transfer for the men’s first team but the comings and goings at Stamford Bridge are starting to emerge. By the end of the month chairman Bruce Buck will have stepped down from his role to remain as a senior advisor, and the suggestion that Marina Granovskaia could soon depart Stamford Bridge has also become apparent.
This is far from a normal transfer window for Chelsea, and with all the good will in the world and the club intending to complete signings as soon as possible, sanctions on former owner Roman Abramovich from the UK Government and the subsequent issuing of a special license that the club had to operate under left the Blues behind in the transfer market. They were lifted when Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital took ownership just over three weeks ago, but transfers were just one thing on a diverse and lengthy to-do list for the new custodians of the club.
Contracts across the club needed to be agreed and departures decided across the full squad and development team to hit Premier League deadlines, discussions with sponsors needed to take place, aspects of the club would need to return operation and a new structure formed.
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While the excuses may not wash with many, Chelsea have shown the ability to move quickly when it is possible. Two new players have been signed by the Women’s team for example, and the decision was made to action Billy Gilmour’s clause to extend his deal to 2024 rather than complete a new deal.
Granovskaia will have been present in most of the dealings over the last decade as Chelsea’s chief negotiator across the board. With her future less than certain, a new approach would appear on the cards for the Blues. That process appears to be bedding in, with Boehly himself mooted as the figure to be working on Romelu Lukaku’s return to Inter Milan, while Thomas Tuchel takes on a greater say within transfer decisions than in the past.
However, it must be acknowledged that transfers include more than one party. Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta yesterday acknowledged to Radio Rai there were difficulties to the deal.
“I can say that today will not be the day of Lukaku’s announcement. Me, Ausilio and Baccin have the duty to build a competitive team while respecting the sustainability of our club. From here polls and negotiations intertwine. We must have the ambition to try all the ways, without being afraid of not reaching the goal. Lukaku track is passable but there are difficulties and we’ll see how it goes. ”
The latest suggestion is that Inter president Steven Zhang has held up proceedings, hoping for a smaller loan fee than the € 10 million (£ 8.6m) proposed thus far. Despite the willingness of Lukaku and Chelsea over the deal, the club will not want to be bullied into not receiving the value they feel they are due.
The significance of the Lukaku deal can then perhaps move even further and inform the Blues over the mobility they will have in their forward positions. football.london understands that any transfers for Ousmane Dembele or Raheem Sterling are independent of each other, rather than alternatives. To land both in positions where Chelsea have so many bodies already, may prove problematic, however.
While Dembele became a free agent, the Frenchman was not planning to make a decision on his future until following his holiday, despite Chelsea already being in touch with his entourage. Any discussion for Sterling will be complicated by the fact the Blues would be dealing with a Premier League rival.
Given the Chelsea period have tracked Jules Kounde for, it is understandable that some would have hoped the 23-year-old defender may have been acquired in the early moments of the window opening. Even then, to sign a player who still had international duty to play, and an operation scheduled for a long-standing issue would have provided some risk. The outcome of that will probably go some way to deciding the fee the Blues are willing to pay.
However, the wait does not appear to be without a degree of risk, with Kounde’s representatives said to be growing frustrated. Whether Granovskaia’s relationship with those figures can prove productive before her own expected departure remains to be seen.
Gabriel Slonina and Eddie Beach perhaps represent the deals where Chelsea are furthest. US goalkeeper Slonina appears close to a move following the Blues’ interest before being sanctioned, while the club have agreed a fee for Southampton’s young glovesman, Beach.
Those deals are investments for the future, and perhaps potential is more obvious to spot than a ready-made product to fit into Tuchel’s squad. Boehly and co will want to make an impression during their first transfer window in charge, and will want to make it the right one, but also ensure that transfers are for the benefit of the club for years to come.