Born in Russia, Marina Granovskaia was branded a “grey mouse” by her teachers at Moscow State University.
Now chief-executive director at Chelsea Football Club, she is regarded as one of the most powerful people in football.
With that being said, let us take a look at Granovskia’s top five achievements since joining the Blue’s board of directors in 2013, and see why she is held in such high opinion.
#5 Nike sponsorship deal
Granovskaia played an influential role in Chelsea’s record-breaking £900m sponsorship deal with sportswear giants Nike in 2016, more than doubling its previous deal with Adidas.
She said: "We believe Nike will be able to support our growth into new markets” adding, “as well as helping us maintain our place among the world's elite football clubs."
At the time, it was the largest commercial deal ever seen in the Premier League- until earlier this year when newly crowned champions Liverpool penned a cool £80m per year deal with the US manufactures.
#4 The 2014 transfer window
In 2014, we saw our first glimpse of Granovskaia’s negotiating magic that we have all grown to appreciate today.
Somehow, she managed to persuaded Paris Saint-Germain to pay an ‘over-the-odds’ fee for David Luiz of £50m- a world-record fee for a defender- when Jose Mourinho wanted rid of the Brazilian.
This saw Chelsea double their money once again, after the Blues payed £25m to Benfica 3 years prior.
In the same window, Chelsea signed Diego Costa to replace departing forwards Romelu Lukaku (£32m to Everton), Demba Ba (£5m to Besiktas), Andre Schurrle (£29m to Vfl Wolfsburg) and Fernando Torres (Free to AC Milan) [Transfermarkt].
The Spaniard went on to score 84 goals in 152 Premier League games for the club, whilst winning two league titles, two player of the month awards and one league cup.
Following his 4-year stay in West London, the then 29-year-old returned to Atletico Madrid in the January of 2018 for a whopping £60m.
Another profit made on an aging player who had run his course at the club.
#3 Oscar and Matic
The sale of Oscar to Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG in 2016 and Nemanja Matic to Manchester United a window later provides two more great examples of Granovskaia's ability to negotiate decent fee’s for surplus assets.
All be it to a direct rival, Matic’s £40m transfer to United was more than £10m over his market valuation.
In terms of Oscars move to China, a £60m agreement was too good of a deal for the club to turn down for a player who was going out of favour.
#2 Hazard’s move to Madrid
If the negotiation of player sales had their own award ceremony, Granovskaia auction of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid would have won top prize.
She was the dealmaker who administered the transfer agreement with Real president Florentino Perez.
The deal saw the Los Blancos eke out an initial £89m, but with various add-ons the fee may eventually rise to £150m or more.
As of yet, the Belgian has not shown anything like his best since arriving in La Liga.
Hazard’s desire to leave for Madrid was no secret and with only 1-year left on his contract, the ultimate fee will be nothing sort of phenomenal business carried out by Granovskaia and co.
#1 This summer
This season alone has seen Chelsea recoup over £200m with the sales of Ola Aina, Tomas Kalas, David Luiz, Micheal Hector, Kenneth Omeruo, Alvaro Morata, Mario Pasalic, Jay Da Silva, Kasey Palmer, Victorien Angbanm, Daishawn Redan and Nathan Allan de Souza respectively.
But Morata’s departure is the real standout deal.
Originally joining Atletico on a 6-month loan deal in January last year, he had a great back-half of the season under Diego Simeone.
Knowing his unpredictability, Granovskaia seize the opportunity and demanded Atletico to agree a fee for Morata on a permanent deal or they must return him to Chelsea.
The red and whites took the bait and paid £60m for the erratic centre forward.
In return, Blues fans have seen the world-class acquisitions of forwards Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech to bolster their attacking options for the new season.
It is now expected that Kai Havertz, Ben Chillwell and Thiago Silva will be joining the pair in the coming days, with the grand total spend reaching £205m.
A remarkable trade of deadwood that has enabled arguably one of the best recruiting windows ever seen.
And it doesn’t end there, with Granovskaia still actively looking to auction Emerson Palmieri and Timo Bakayoko to clubs in Italy for a combined £54m and continuing to the search for a new goalkeeper.
Plus, we must not forget that Granovskaia was the one who facilitated and rubber-stamped a deal for Frank Lampard, realising the importance of the Chelsea legend’s return would have on the club’s fan base, as well as his potential management ability.
A true Lady in blue
Roman Abramovich may steal the headlines for the millions he has invested into the club since he took over in June 2003, but Granovskaia is certainly the brains behind the business.