Sam Wallace: Secretive Dane has always had the ear of Abramovich
Thursday 17 September 2009
Frank Arnesen has proved so powerful at Chelsea that even Peter Kenyon, the man who always seems to land on his feet, found it impossible to see off the influence of the Danish talent scout who has the ear of Roman Abramovich.
Arnesen's power-struggle with Kenyon was an open secret at Chelsea where the two men vied to run the club for Abramovich (pictured right). Increasingly, however, Arnesen took control of player transfers, especially those leaving the club, while Kenyon thought the former chief scout should stick to recruiting youngsters.
Remarkably, the Gaël Kakuta affair does not seem to have diminished the power of Arnesen who was directly responsible for the academy at that time. In fact, it was an indication of his confidence in his own position at Chelsea that he remained on his summer holiday when news of Fifa's transfer ban was announced.
Chief among Arnesen's allies are the veteran Dutch football scout Piet de Visser, who is a personal consultant on football to Abramovich and the football agent Soren Lerby, who played for Denmark with Arnesen. Having joined from Tottenham as chief scout in 2005, Arnesen has managed to stay firmly lodged within Abramovich's inner circle of confidantes.
Although Chelsea claimed Arnesen would have to answer to Kenyon in the command structure when he was promoted to sporting director this summer, that was lip-service to a chief executive who was already on his way out. The secretive Arnesen declined the opportunity to speak at Carlo Ancelotti's presentation to the press in July claiming that it was "Carlo's day".
The estimated £62m that Arnesen has lavished on young players since his arrival at the club, a recruitment budget unprecedented for academy footballers, has yet to see one graduate to be a full-fledged member of the first team. Nevertheless he is keen for Ancelotti to pick his youngsters. Fabio Borini and Jeffrey Bruma – two Arnesen signings – were on the bench for the Champions League game against Porto on Tuesday.
It was noticeable that neither Kenyon nor Arnesen chose to sit next to Ancelotti when he was presented for the first time as Chelsea manager. Given his track record it is unlikely that the elusive Arnesen is going to put himself up for public cross-examination any time soon.
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