The trouble with transfer rumours are that even the hacks get sick of them sometimes. You can tell that’s happened when a ludicrous story appears.
The instant you see it, you recognise it for what it is but there’s always that one element which nags at your brain and rather than completely dismiss it, the seed is planted and you spend more time than you should naturally, considering the circumstances which might make it plausible.
We’re at that point this morning. The Championship sides have begun their pre-season friendlies but the Premier League clubs – certainly the ‘big boys’ – they aren’t really starting yet. Liverpool had a couple but they don’t matter; there’s little European potential in them and in any case, facing non-league and semi-professional teams don’t count.
So there’s time to be occupied and column inches filled. Rather than resort to the rambling introduction ahead of a meandering post like this one, the true professionals steam straight in and just make things up. There’s a creativity needed in this process, one which is strangely admirable.
The story has to be about someone that no-one else is writing about. Not before you anyway; they all copy each other afterwards, adding their own angle to be different. Copy is the wrong word since this is an industry where plagiarism is frowned upon; no slight intended, gentlemen.
We see enough stories about £100m men and £50m men to know that frankly, if Arsenal are involved, there is but a remote chance of it happening and even that’s optimistic. We didn’t get to be the 23rd richest sports franchise in the world by spending money and investing in the squad; Arsenal simply let it sit there in the bank, looking all pretty.
Anyway, we’re linked with Lacazette and Draxler with an almost admirable stamina. Even if the protagonists say the opposite, we’re still interested. In fairness, Klaus Allofs did hint Draxler may be sold this summer as Wolfsburg are feeling the pinch with Volkswagen cutting their funding.
But those are run-of-the-mill stories, embellished and enhanced from other sources. What we need is a far out and wacky story, one to produce belly laughs galore and that momentary sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Thomas Vermaelen to Arsenal. Now that he’s match fit, the Belgian wants to leave Barcelona and because he’s got a pulse, West Ham United are interested. Even if he didn’t, Messrs Gold and Sullivan would probably be sniffing around; they strike me as those kind of people.
But because West Ham have chased everything this summer, the Mirror’s Aaron Flanagan needed to add something to piqué your interest. Arsenal’s untapped transfer window reserves of angst make them the perfect fodder. And the fact that the medical staff will be seriously under-employed now that Tomas Rosicky has left the club, lends itself to signing an injury-prone over-30 defender.
Still, it’s got me through the 500 – word barrier which is no mean feat.
The genuine news…no, I’ll stop there.
Alexis is apparently struggling to overcome an injury which means that Theo Walcott is the only fit striker. That’s news to Chuba Akpom but perhaps Arsène spoke to him before Crossy broke the news. Whether there is any truth in the extent of Alexis’ injury is open to debate.
We know the Chilean suffered ankle-knack during the summer. Much to foot fetishists delight, he posted pictures of the damaged appendage whilst on holiday in New York. To what extent he is a risk for the opening game in a month’s time is hard to gauge unless he’s returned to London for scans and examination by a specialist. As long as it wasn’t Dr Ruth who diagnosed him, we should OK.
Still, there’s nothing like a good injury crisis to get you into the spirit of the coming season is there…