Remember Alexey "money-laundering exercise" Smertin? It's a joke, Mr. Abramovich, Sir; just a joke! You know, ha ha; joke!
So Smertin was "signed" "by Ranieri" and then immediately loaned to Portsmouth in 2003. Then, he played a hatful of matches for Mourinho Mk. I - enough to earn a Premier League medal - before getting loaned out for a few months the following season and then sold off to Dinamo Moscow for £1m and a matryoshka doll. Point is, he was a fairly inconsequential signing. But he was one of us and he's had a few words with the official Chelsea website recently, words which you should probably read since they say nice things about us and José in particular.
I couldn't help but notice a little throwaway tidbit at the top, which I ignored at first but then remembered in one of those slightly hazy waittaminute moments.
"Alexey Smertin, a member of our Championship-winning squad in 2005, returned to Stamford Bridge recently on business."
-source: Chelsea FC
Oh? And just what business might that be?
Smertin has had quite an interesting career since retiring, serving on the board of directors at Lokomotiv Moscow and even running for political office back in his homeland of some far-off Russian region near Mongolia. He was also involved in the Russian bid for World Cup 2018 (he was their Beckham) and recently became "a technical director at Dynamo Moscow." At least that's what Chelsea say, I can't find any record of this anywhere*. Notice lack of definite article and proper capitalization of title; how many technical directors does one club need? But hey, Russia!
* I even tried smertin.ru, which looks to be a gloriously standard Wordpress effort quite possibly once affiliated with the great man himself; sadly the last update is from 2011.
In any case, Dinamo has a couple other, more concrete Chelsea connections: they're currently managed by none other than Dan Petrescu and one of the players he gets to manage is Yuri Zhirkov, who left Anzhi in the same fire sale that brought Samuel Eto'o and Willian to us. So if Smertin is indeed involved with the Russian club on some level, we shouldn't be surprised if we see further business between the two clubs in the near future.
Might I interest you in a striker or three, Alexey?