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Chelsea somehow got Real Madrid to agree to pay up to €160m for Eden Hazard

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Granovskaia masterclass of masterclasses

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Real Madrid CF v Real Sociedad - La Liga Photo by Xaume Olleros/Getty Images

Thanks to a (foiled) fraud case, an amusing footnote has come to light this weekend in the Eden Hazard saga between Chelsea and Real Madrid.

A transfer that was seven years in the making, and regarding a player with just one year left on his contract at Chelsea, who only stayed for that last year because he’s a nice boy, could end up costing Real Madrid €160m. Chelsea won’t see all that money, of course, since that includes payments to other teams and various bonuses (some more attainable than others), but it’s still a rather funny and, as Hazard struggles to get going in Spain, an increasingly ever more impressive feat from the Hand of the Emperor, Marina Granovskaia, who got Real to agree this deal with very little leverage on her side.

The fraud case concerns someone posing as AFC Tubize and trying to collect the FIFA-mandated “training compensation” fees due Hazard’s old team, after the transfer to Real Madrid, who apparently agreed to pay in three annual installments. (Teams often pay in installments even if the fees are recorded as lump sums in accounting.)

Eden played for Tubize for two years, when he was 12 and 13 years old, which means that they receive 0.25% of the transfer fee for each of the two years, so 0.50% total. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when we’re talking tens and hundreds of millions, it adds up. Tubize successfully collected the first installment, €200k last year, but someone tried to trick the bank for the second installment this summer, posing as “AFC Tubize SA”.

While the scheme was foiled, during the process it was revealed that the fraudsters tried to collect €280k (second installment) and €320k (third installment) — meaning that the compensation due to Tubize totaled €800k. Since this is mandated to be 0.5% of the overall transfer fee (bonuses included, to prevent teams from stiffing the smaller teams with such structures), that means that said overall fee must have been €160m!

Wow.

Real Madrid of course deny this, via Marca, but every club tries to save face in such situations.

At the time of the transfer, most reports claimed a €100m fee, with significant bonuses. Chelsea sources were claiming that the club could earn “as much as £130m” once all the bonuses are met (i.e. €145m) — some of which (€15m, reportedly) has already happened. Once all the training compensations and other random fees are factored in, that’s just about in line with €160m.

Pretty sure Granovskaia could sell you a tree from your own backyard.