Celebrating incredible highs and dealing with painful lows comes with the territory of being a Chelsea fan.
For every Champions League triumph, there’s the sudden collapse of a manager’s reign who you were once certain would embark on a dynasty at Stamford Bridge. For every Didier Drogba masterclass, there’s a Mateja Kezman disasterclass.
Rival fans may look at Chelsea’s burgeoning trophy cabinet with envy, but you can never afford to become too comfortable as a Blue.
Whether Chelsea fans have become numb to the pain or if it’s more the fact they expect that gut-wrenching feeling to return in some capacity remains unclear, but the departure of Eden Hazard in 2019 is one instance where no supporter escaped unscathed.
Hazard represented everything that was good about Chelsea for a number of years.
Sure, nobody is ever going to question the footballing brain of Nemanja Matic or Cesc Fabregas’ unnerving ability to spot a killer pass and execute it to perfection, but watching kids queue up at the turnstiles while they chew their Dad’s ear off about how excited they are to watch players like Hazard play is what football’s all about.
The inevitability that came with the Belgian’s departure made the move slightly easier to stomach, yet one of the few people connected with Chelsea Football Club who was left smiling as Hazard headed for the Santiago Bernabeu was Marina Granovskaia.
Real’s interest in Hazard had been public knowledge for some time and, as his contract ticked towards its final 12 months, the onus was well and truly on Chelsea to generate a fee to avoid losing him for free the following summer.
A fee of £30million or perhaps even £25m would usually be considered a palatable sum in the circumstances, even for an elite talent like Hazard.
Florentino Perez and his Real rabble aren’t exactly renowned for being shrew movers in the market, but to shell out such an exorbitant fee for a player who would be available free of charge in just 12 months is absolutely bonkers – even by their standards.
Just what was said in negotiations between the two clubs to convince Madrid to pay so much we’ll likely never know, but Chelsea would do well to repeat the trick in January.
Antonio Rudiger ticks just about every box needed to be a fans’ favourite; he’s bounced back having once been frozen out by a previous manager, he’s helped lead Chelsea to European glory and, most importantly, he’s just a bit mad.
With negotiations over a new deal stalling, the Germany international is free to talk to foreign clubs in January with a view to a summer move, with Real frontrunners in the race to sign him.
Suggesting Chelsea could somehow convince Real to pay for Rudiger in January to avoid the risk of him signing for someone else in the summer is pretty absurd.
Talks between the centre-back’s representatives and the LaLiga behemoths are understood to have been ongoing for some time, and you’d like to think any club hierarchy with even the vaguest sense of business acumen would assess the situation before deciding to wait until the end of the season to unveil their shiny new arrival.
So, it’s a good job Chelsea are dealing with Real Madrid instead.
With rumours of interest surfacing from big-hitters like Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, there’s every chance Granovskaia and her team could yet secure a fee for Rudiger instead of losing him for nothing in just over six months’ time.
You’d have every right to think this too far-fetched a scenario to materialise because, let’s be honest, it sounds absolutely ridiculous.
However, just have a think back over some of the incredible players Real have signed in the 21st century; Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Gareth Bale, Figo, Kaka – all absolute superstars and yet not one of them cost more than the man who could have arrived on a free had Real held tight for one more year.
“That sounds too daft even by Real Madrid’s standards” are words never to have been uttered by any football fan.