The Chelsea Board may be taking their sweet time in finding a replacement for Michael Emenalo — Emenalo himself has already found and settled in to a new job at AS Monaco — but with the January window just a couple weeks away and an all-important summer coming up with at least two massive contract extension talks on the horizon (Hazard, Courtois), not to mention Conte’s situation, the team will need an actual sporting director sooner rather than later. Granovskaia may be a rock star, but not even she can take on that many roles.
The one and only concrete rumor so far has involved, incidentally, the former Monaco director Luis Campos, who’s at Lille these days, while speculation around Leonid Slutsky, recently ousted as manager at Hull City, as well as former players like Drogba or Lampard has made the rounds as well. Now, according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, we can add a new name to the list: PSV director Marcel Brands.
The report claims Chelsea have already gotten in touch with Brands, who has held his position at PSV since 2010. With Brands as director, the club won two Eredivisie titles and are currently on course for a third with an 8-point lead ahead of Ajax at the top of the table.
Lending weight to the notion of Chelsea bringing in a PSV-man is the club’s current and previous association with the Dutch heavyweights, including Marco van Ginkel’s repeated loan moves, previous player deals such as Robben, Kezman, Alex or Jeffrey Bruma, and most importantly, super scout Piet de Visser and former director Frank Arnesen, both of whom arrived from PSV to lead the Chelsea technical staff before Emenalo’s reign. Incidentally, Arnesen returned to PSV at the end of last season and is supposedly ready to step into that role at the club should Brands leave. (Obligatory, honorable mention for Guus Hiddink as well, who has strong ties to all those mentioned in this paragraph.)
Brands’ ... brand ... of developing young talent (and then selling them on for big money) certainly would fit a big part of Chelsea’s youth development strategy, so hiring the 55-year-old would make plenty of sense. For now however, this is just a rumor and a name to keep in mind for whenever the club figure out how to fill the void left by Emenalo.