After balancing the books to get Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea press on with fire sale as they chase next big deal

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 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Marina Granovskaia has proved herself the master of securing the big signings. But it is Chelsea’s ability to rake in a fortune from unwanted assets that has put them in such a strong position this summer, allowing Thomas Tuchel to break the club transfer record for Romelu Lukaku, with a top-class centre-back also in his plans.

While the £97.5million capture of Lukaku so far feels like the most important signing of any Premier League club during this window, the fact Chelsea have managed to almost recoup that entire fee in sales represents remarkable business, particularly in a summer when clubs are having so many difficulties offloading highly-paid fringe players.

Expect a fire sale in the final hours of the window on August 31 as all types of compromise deals are structured just to get wages off the books.

Chelsea still have an unwieldy squad, even after clawing back more than £91m in sales so far. Ike Ugbo is set to add another £4m to that figure, with Genk and Marseille battling for his signature.

Loan moves for Michy Batshuayi and Kenedy were agreed yesterday, with both players having contract extensions triggered with a view to cashing in next summer. Likewise, Emerson Palmieri, who is on the verge of a loan to Lyon.

If Chelsea are the ultimate example of the richest clubs farming talent, Granovskaia’s ability to monetise players who do not make the grade or are no longer required has proved a rich source of income.

It has allowed Tuchel to add one of the finest strikers in the world to his Champions League winners at a net cost of just under £2m. Even the fee for Lukaku was reduced by around £2m due to a solidarity payment Chelsea were owed for developing the Belgian in their academy.

It means that there should also be plenty left in the pot to sign Jules Kounde, even if the intention is still to offload Kurt Zouma to make room for the Sevilla defender.

Chelsea hope to make another £25m on Zouma, the same fee they commanded for Fikayo Tomori, who signed a permanent deal with AC Milan at the end of the season, while Tammy Abraham has been their biggest sale this summer after his £34m move to Roma this week.

The £18m Crystal Palace paid for Marc Guehi was another significant sum, but there have been a number of smaller deals that all add up.

Olivier Giroud’s £1m move to Milan was a shrewd piece of business by Granovskaia, who triggered the one-year option in the striker’s contract despite the expectation that he would leave this summer.

Long before the end of last season, Chelsea staff were told to prepare for a major exodus, such was the size of Tuchel’s squad once of a series of loan moves came to an end.

Agents around Europe were looking for avenues to move players on, knowing Tuchel would want to shape the team in his own image. So vast were his resources when all his players returned for pre-season training that he had to separate the players into groups, keeping his core squad from last term together for some sessions, while those coming back from loan trained apart.

There will be more exits, with Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Zouma all potentially securing big fees if permanent moves can be secured. Callum Hudson-Odoi could yet command the biggest of all, but the winger is reluctant to go.

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