Roman Abramovich’s transfer guru at Chelsea, Russian-Canadian Marina Granovskaia, has been given a major honor by a star-studded jury including former Ukraine boss Andriy Shevchenko.
While the likes of Champions League-winning Chelsea chief Thomas Tuchel and Premier League-lifting Man City coach Pep Guardiola might be considered contenders for the title, a cast of top former players named a surprise choice as their best manager in Europe.
The panel, which also included World Cup champion Lothar Matthaus and Ballon d’Or winner Hristo Stoichkov, named negotiation mastermind Granovskaia as their Best European Manager in the Golden Player 2021 awards.
“Roman Abramovich’s club lost the Women’s Champions League in the final,” they said, referencing the 4-0 defeat Emma Hayes’s side suffered to Barcelona.
“But they raised the [Champions League] thanks to the success of Thomas Tuchel’s boys.
“[It was] a triumph that bears the signature of the plenipotentiary Marina Granovskaia, architect of Chelsea [becoming] champions of Europe.
“[That] prompted the Golden Player board to elect the queen of English football as Best European Manager 2021.”
Perhaps Granovskaia’s best recent signing has been Kai Havertz, who she landed for around $94.5 million in 2020 from Bayer Leverkusen.
The Germany midfielder went on to score the only goal of the game as Chelsea beat Guardiola’s league champions 1-0 in the Champions League final in Porto in May.
His compatriot Timo Werner, signed for more than $56 million from RB Leipzig in the same year, has failed to make as big an impact but is regarded as one of Europe’s best prospects among strikers and could still kick on in west London.
The free signing of veteran defender Thiago Silva from PSG was also considered a masterstroke that proved pivotal to the Blues’ second win of the continent’s most coveted trophy, and Romelu Lukaku joined from Serie A winners Inter Milan for more than $97 million this summer.
These reinforcements have helped the Stamford Bridge giants top the Premier League by three points over holders City, and winning the top flight title would be another crowning achievement for Granovskaia.
Moving to London from her homeland in 2003 when Abramovich took over the club, 46-year-old Granovskaia once worked as the billionaire businessman’s chief assistant.
She became his representative in 2010 before joining the board in June 2013 and becoming chief executive the following year.
Once dubbed the “most powerful woman in football” by The Times, she is considered one of the best in the game at her job – hence this week’s award – and also brokered a $71.5 million annual deal with Nike until 2032 for the club.
Other big winners at the Golden Player Awards, which were organized by Italian newspaper Tuttosport, included Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, who took home the main prize, and Barcelona’s Pedri, who was named Europe’s Golden Boy.