Roman Abramovich marked a decade as Chelsea owner by penning a thank you note to the club's fans on the match-day programme ahead of last Sunday’s Premier League opener against Hull City. Less than a week later, the Russian billionaire of few words but big deeds delivered his own personal message to London rivals Tottenham. No sentiment needed. His actions said enough.
In usurping Spurs for the fairly explosive Brazilian midfielder Willian, he of the massive barnet, Abramovich could not have been clearer if he had hired an open-top bus, loudspeaker and some blue bunting before parading Will.I.Am on Bill Nicholson way. This is as close as it gets to throwing out a two-fingered salute at executive level.
Abramovich is a figure of some mystery, but he certainly knows how to finalise football transfers. It has become an accepted norm from 10 years at Stamford Bridge that sees the Champions League and several Premier League trophies bulge from his portfolio. These are boundaries Tottenham have yet to breach.
According to various media reports, Abramovich apparently telephoned ‘fellow Russian oligarch’ Suleyman Kerimov, owner of Anzhi Makhachkala, to offer £32 million for the player.
Even if Tottenham increased their £30m bid to match Chelsea, not much can be done to sign a player who wants to play elsewhere. It is a free world, people must be allowed to make their own choices. It could be the wrong decision. Only time will tell.
From Chelsea's perspective, even if Willian spends the season in the stands watching Eden Hazard and Juan Mata strutting their stuff, at least he will not be representing Spurs.
Tottenham are feeling sore, but before their fans begin exerting phoney moral outrage at losing out on the player, it would be wholly wrong to suggest Chelsea are lacking in scruples in opting to sign Willian.
For Tottenham's fans to buy into such a belief is as ridiculous as the Arsenal fans who whipped out a banner at the Emirates last Saturday with the words “You can't buy class” plastered across it.
There is no class in football's world of new money, but there are many classy players. And Chelsea appear to have landed one Spurs wanted.
In a week when the club's manager Jose Mourinho suggested it would be ethically wrong to throw in a third bid for the Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney before Monday night's meeting in the Premier League, Chelsea's timing could perhaps have been better. Or perhaps it could not.
It depends how you view such happenings. There is no moral high ground to be taken in such an industry. Certainly not Tottenham when they are willing to accept an obscene £93 million offer from Real Madrid for Gareth Bale.
There is only signing players, and failing to sign players. There are only winners, and losers. Anything else is irrelevant.
Liverpool felt they had concluded a £27.5m transfer for Willian last weekend before Tottenham planted their financial foot on the landscape. Spurs can hardly turn around in anguish when Chelsea do likewise.
Asked if Willian was making his decision based on football rather than finance, the Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said: "No, it wasn’t a football one and I don’t really want to go into it… that’s for us as a club really.
“The bottom line is he hasn’t come here for whatever reason, and we move on.
“We identify the targets and then try and get the deal done financially. That’s how it was. The club has pushed financially as hard as they felt they could, but it wasn’t to be.”
It is ironic that the Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas wanted to sign Willian during his ill-fated nine-month spell as Chelsea coach. And now loses him to Chelsea, a club who come with the promise of Champions League football.
Even if other areas of his squad appear to be in need of more urgent remedial work, Mourinho probably does want to sign Willian. But the chance to embarrass local rivals while completing such a transfer will only make this sweeter.
Mourinho spoke with a touch of trademark bedevilment at yesterday's pre-match press conference before the visit to Old Trafford.
"I don't like to speak before time because football can be crazy," he said, looking on the verge of massive smirk. "I know what the player wants, so in this moment we cannot hide.”
This is the world of professional football. It is a ruthless place full of dodgy deals, and murky agents. A player can undergo a medical with one club one day before beginning to "consider his options" and sign for their local rivals the next. Subterfuge is not hidden.
"That's the danger of medicals before contracts," said Mourinho before adding the caveat: "The best thing to do, is do the medical in secret."
In his message to the Chelsea masses, Abramovich had kept it typically brief. "We have had a great decade together and the club could not have achieved it all without you. Thanks for your support, here's to many more years success."
He omitted to mention the mission statement from all his years funding the club. All's fair in love and war.