The SIX key Chelsea figures needed to steady the ship after Roman Abramovich's exit

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Roman Abramovich’s era as owner of Chelsea will come to an abrupt end in the coming days after he announced his plans to sell the Premier League giants. 

Following Russia’s brutal invasion of neighbours Ukraine, Abramovich and other Russia oligarchs are set to be hit with harsh sanctions by the UK government as a result.

Businessman Abramovich, whose net worth is valued at £10billion ($13.3bn) by Forbes and denies there are any grounds to sanction him, is now looking sell the west London club just short of reaching 19 years at the helm, a shock decision which left the Blues reeling.

Roman Abramovich has put Chelsea up for sale, bringing an end to a trophy-laden era

Roman Abramovich has put Chelsea up for sale, bringing an end to a trophy-laden era

The search is now on for his successor, who may have to stump up £2.3bn ($3bn) – Abramovich’s current price tag, but Chelsea supporters are understandably concerned about what the future holds.

The club have already seen Paulo Ferreira leave his role as loan player technical coach at Chelsea, bringing his 18-year association with the club to an end, and more are now expected to leave.

With the likes of billionaire businessmen Hansjorg Wyss and Todd Boehly both in talks to takeover the club, it remains to be seen if any new owner can replicate the successor achieved during Abramovich’s near two decade reign.

But as the club heads in a new direction, who are the figures already at the club that will be tasked with steadying the ship? 

Here, Sportsmail looks at six of the key figures at Chelsea who will look to maintain the momentum as the club enters a brand new chapter in its history. 

Chelsea supporters are understandably concerned about what the future holds with his exit

Chelsea supporters are understandably concerned about what the future holds with his exit

Thomas Tuchel

The Chelsea manager has been a revelation since he was appointed just over a year ago.

In that time since taking over from Frank Lampard, Tuchel has won the Champions League and Club World Cup and has transformed the Blues into serious contenders on all fronts.

Off the pitch he’s a leader, too. Having dealt with issues like Romelu Lukaku’s disruptive Sky Sport Italia interview well, the German is certainly the man to help the team transition through a difficult period.

Thomas Tuchel has been a revelation since he was appointed as boss just over a year ago

Thomas Tuchel has been a revelation since he was appointed as boss just over a year ago

As he heads into his 75th game in charge as Chelsea boss on Saturday, Tuchel’s positivity and approach makes him the perfect man at the helm. 

He has already faced plenty of questions over Abramovich’s departure and the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict – and may have bit back at reporters’ repeated questions earlier this week – but he has never ducked the issue.

Hugely popular among the players and fans, Tuchel is just the man to lead from the front having helped the club become world and European champions. 

Cesar Azpilicueta

While Chelsea have a strong character in Tuchel on the sidelines, they have Cesar Azpilicueta leading by example on the pitch.

The Spaniard, who has been at the club since 2012 and is the longest-serving player in the current squad, has been consistently brilliant since arriving a decade ago and has played under eight different managers.

Azpilicueta only has four months left to run on his current deal with it looking highly unlikely that he will extend beyond that.

However, the ever-professional defender will set the tone for the rest of the squad and make sure that heads don’t drop while maintaining their focus on the rest of the season. 

Cesar Azpilicueta has been one of Chelsea's most loyal servant during Abramovich's reign

Cesar Azpilicueta has been one of Chelsea’s most loyal servant during Abramovich’s reign

Marina Granovskaia

When Abramovich took over Chelsea back in 2003, he brought Granovskaia – personal assistant at his oil company, Sibneft – with him and it’s proved to be a resounding success.

The Russian executive, who assumed her director role at Chelsea in 2013, is one of Abramovich’s most trusted confidantes and is the one who runs the club from London while he is away.

Once dubbed by the Times as the ‘most powerful woman in football’, Granovskaia has become one of the most skilled negotiators in the game, with players and agents alike respecting her.

Granovskaia, who was in Abu Dhabi to see Chelsea win the Club World Cup, has been described as ‘a savvy and fine leader’ who is ‘available and uncompromising’ in her work, which has led to Chelsea becoming reigning European champions. 

Granovskaia (left) has long been a close confidante of Abramovich, since before Chelsea

Granovskaia (left) has long been a close confidante of Abramovich, since before Chelsea

The Russian-Canadian director has been described as headstrong in negotiations

The Russian-Canadian director has been described as headstrong in negotiations

Forbes ranked her fifth overall back in 2018 in their ‘Most Powerful Women in International Sports’ list. In addition, Granovskaia’s work was recognised on a global scale when she received the Best Club Director in European football award back in December. 

It is this work that has made her an invaluable asset to Chelsea but with Abramovich’s sale, her exit could sadly be on the cards too. 

A report by The Guardian has claimed that once a sale is complete, Granovskaia – as well as chairman Bruce Buck – is unlikely to stay on under the new ownership.

Should the Russian-Canadian director stay put, she will be the exact person the new ownership can rely on.

Emma Hayes

Like Tuchel, Hayes has become one of the most well-liked and respected members of staff at Stamford Bridge.

Manager of the Women’s side, Hayes has become a serial winner with the club while her work away from Cobham as a pundit has also endeared her to the general public.

Away from the pitch, Hayes often campaigns on differing issues – including tackling domestic abuse – and is seen as a rock by her players.

Emma Hayes has become one of the most respected members of staff at Stamford Bridge

Emma Hayes has become one of the most respected members of staff at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea forward Fran Kirby spoke highly of Hayes and the positive influence she has had on her life. Kirby said: ‘Emma’s been incredible. She’s been my rock; the person who made sure I was protected from everything.’

Another role model that paints the club in a good light, Hayes is certainly the person to help the club in a new and uncertain era. 

Petr Cech

While there is plenty of uncertainty around Granovskaia’s future, there isn’t any when it comes to Petr Cech.

A legendary goalkeeper for so many years in the early years of Abramovich’s era, Cech is now the club’s technical and performance director and has carried his iconic status into the boardroom at Stamford Bridge.

An important figure at the club, Cech was also responsible for bringing Edouard Mendy to the club who has been an absolute revelation since joining from Rennes.

Chelsea's iconic goalkeeper Petr Cech is now the club's technical and performance director

Chelsea’s iconic goalkeeper Petr Cech is now the club’s technical and performance director

The former Czech international is still adored by fans, too, after he was the person to appease protesting supporters outside the Bridge during the European Super League debacle, which swiftly ended not long after.

Cech is another legendary figure that fans will be hoping to stay around for years to come. 

Neil Bath

The final figure that’ll be crucial to Chelsea’s continued success for years to come is down to Neil Bath.

Bath, Chelsea’s head of youth development, will see his role take on even more importance given how the club’s are now entering into the unknown without Abramovich to back them financially.

Having already brought players like Conor Gallagher, 22, Billy Gilmour, 20, and Trevoh Chalobah, 20, through the academy, Bath will be relied on to continue feeding top-level players through to the first team if finances begin to slow.

The likes of Mason Mount, Reece James and Andreas Christensen are all now crucial first team players – as well as being world and European champions at that – and are testament to Bath’s work in the academy.

Neil Bath (centre), pictured alongside Jody Morris (left) and Frank Lampard (right), is Chelsea's head of youth development

Neil Bath (centre), pictured alongside Jody Morris (left) and Frank Lampard (right), is Chelsea’s head of youth development

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