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Premier League

Fifa rejects Drogba bid to return to the Bridge


Didier Drogba's hopes of an emotional return to Chelsea were yesterday blocked by Fifa. International football's governing body held firm on its rule that no player can move outside of the transfer window.

The 34-year-old forward left Stamford Bridge in the summer for nothing, when he signed a lucrative contract with the Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua.

Their season ended last month and the player had expressed an interest to rejoin Chelsea with a view to training and then possibly playing for them in the Premier League in order to keep himself fit ahead of the African Cup of Nations, which begins on 19 January.

"We can confirm that Didier Drogba submitted a request for authorisation to be registered outside an open registration period for a club on a loan basis," a Fifa statement said. "Fifa has informed him about the relevant regulations... that players may only be registered during one of the two annual registration periods fixed by the relevant association."

Fifa cited previous precedents where David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Thierry Henry were not allowed to make loan moves from the MLS until 1 January.

Granovskaia's mysteries yet to be revealed

The internal politics of Chelsea have always been complex. There is, of course, only one man who matters.

But Roman Abramovich has to delegate and those who work on his behalf are relevant too. Marina Granovskaia has emerged as one of the main workers on Abramovich's behalf, negotiating deals and contracts, especially with Shakhtar Donetsk over Chelsea's interest in Willian.

But her profile is particularly fascinating because it appears so minimal. Russian journalists know very little about Granovskaia. A Google search in Russian yields almost nothing. Her life beyond or before Abramovich is barely publicly documented. Her privacy and mystery almost seem intentional.

Jack Pitt-Brooke