Transfer news

PA assisting with Blues deals

March 3, 2011
By Harry Harris, Football Correspondent

Roman Abramovich has turned to his PA, Marina Granovskaia, to form an important part of his transfer recruitment team as Chelsea step up their bids for Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.

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ESPNsoccernet understands Granovskaia was involved in the deals to sign Fernando Torres and David Luiz on the final day of the transfer window and that she has now been asked to take a more hands-on role in attempting to sign Belgian starlets Lukaku and De Bruyne.

Granovskaia has so far managed to avoid the spotlight but she appears to be taking increased responsibility in the role currently fulfilled by sporting director Frank Arnesen, who will leave to join Hamburg at the end of the season.

"Marina is a link between Chelsea, the players, and the agents," ESPNsoccernet's insider said. "It is the sort of role you would normally associate with the director of football.

"Marina is well-known inside the club as Roman's PA and she has been busy behind the scenes for a while. What role she might now aspire to no one is quite sure."

Much might depend on whether Guus Hiddink is recruited as the new director of football to replace Arnesen.

Asked for a comment, a club spokesman told ESPNsoccernet: "Marina Granovskaia holds a senior position in Roman Abramovich's office and on occasion acts as liaison between the club's board and the owner. However, any suggestion that she has taken on a director of football type role is not true."

Chelsea have begun the process of attempting to sign Anderlecht striker Lukaku, 17, who has been touted as a potential successor to Didier Drogba. Lukaku has described Chelsea as his "favourite club", but Anderlecht are demanding €30 million for the player amid rival interest from Real Madrid and Manchester City.

Racing Genk's De Bruyne, meanwhile, is also considered one of the finest young talents in Belgium, and the 19-year-old is capable of playing on the wing as well as in attack. Chelsea are believed to have offered €4 million, but have been told the bid is nowhere near Genk's asking price. City have also expressed an interest in De Bruyne.

The source added: "Frank Arnesen has been in talks to try to sign both the players, but Marina is now more involved with Frank heading off to Hamburg. There is a big tussle going for these two boys between City and Chelsea."

In the case of De Bruyne, the Chelsea plan would be to farm the player out to Vitesse to gain experience.