I religiously read a Football Transfer Rumours APP on my phone on the train to work each morning. In the last 24 hours, I have read about Wayne Rooney’s move to Newcastle United, Darren Bent’s transfer to Championship side Leeds United and Scott Parker’s impending move to QPR, following their relegation to the second tier. I have to wonder, am I wasting my time? Is someone just making this stuff up?
I just tapped “transfer rumours July 2012” into Google, to see what was occupying the back pages towards the end of last summer’s transfer window,as the 2012/2013 season approached. I list below the first four stories I came across (genuinely the first four I read).
(1) Clint Dempsey – Fulham to Liverpool
There’s a report dated 18th July 2012 from a U.S. website, announcing that the deal to take the American international to Anfield had been completed. Numerous other UK papers report his impending move to Liverpool, some state that a fee and personal terms had been agreed. The legitimacy of the story was further supported, in a number of articles, by the loan of Andy Carroll to West Ham; leaving Liverpool short of attacking options as the new season approached.
Dempsey signed for Spurs on 31st August 2012 for £6 million on a three year contract.
(2) Dimitar Berbatov – Manchester United to QPR
On 31st July 2012, The Times was reporting that Mark Hughes would make “a hat-trick of raids on his former club” (having already signed Ji-sung Park and Fabio on loan), by completing a permanent deal for the Bulgarian Berbatov.
On 31st August 2012, Berbatov signed a two-year deal with Fulham.
(3) “Andy Carroll and Hugo Rodallega to Fulham?”
This was the headline in The Guardian on 12th July 2012. Andy Carroll was at Liverpool and appeared not to be part Brendan Rodgers’ longer term plans. Rodallega was a free agent having allowed his contract to expire at Wigan Athletic. The story was repeated elsewhere too, The Mirror claimed “Fulham will make nabbing the striker [Carroll] a condition of Liverpool’s signing of Clint Dempsey. So, a Rodallega-Carroll strike force looms at Craven Cottage”.
Andy Carroll joined West Ham on 30th August 2012 on loan for the 2012/13 season. The same day that this article was published, Rodallega did indeed sign a 3 year deal with Fulham.
So on the face of it, not a bad success rate. However, Rodallega was all but a done deal; and the article also suggested José Bosingwa to Lille (he joined QPR), Defoe to Reading (he remained at Spurs), Rafael van der Vaart to the United Arab Emirates (he signed for Hamburg) and they were really unsure about Junior Hoilett, suggesting any one of Borussia Mönchengladbach, Newcastle, Tottenham, Fulham or Everton (he signed for QPR).
(4) Robin van Persie – Arsenal to Juventus
On 1st August 2012 The Mail Online reported Van Persie to Juve was a ‘done deal’. They quoted a FIFA agent, who claimed “…Juventus have had a signed contract with Van Persie for some time.”
Van Persie joined Manchester United on 17th August 2012 for an initial £22.5m, on a four year contract.
I continued to read on, and while I was looking at last year’s rumours, I followed a link to manutd.com who compile a list called ‘This Month’s Rumours’, which consolidates transfer stories involving the club and is sourced from each major news media corporation. Manchester City provide something similar and so I pulled together the latest news and put into the graphic, shown below, based on this summer’s rumours.
If these stories are all to be believed, this is the possible starting line-up for the Manchester Derby next season. The changes to the team would be even more dramatic, but the rumour mills do appear to favour a story about a striker or a creative midfielder, rumours about defensive players are very thin on the ground and so the teams are relatively unchanged in the defensive positions. I’ll leave it to your own expertise and judgement to determine how likely these line-ups are for next year.
This made me think, I wonder what was being predicted by manutd.com (their official website) a year ago and how accurate that turned out to be? Here’s the list of players rumoured to be signing for United in July 2012, again sourced from stories in major newspapers and by television corporations:-
Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
Victor Wanyama (Celtic)
Ezequiel Cirigliano (River Plate)
Jese Rodriguez (Real Madrid)
Christian Eriksen (Ajax)
Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid)
Moussa Dembele (Fulham)
Marouane Fellaini (Everton)
Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos)
Lucas Moura (Sao Paolo)
Robin van Persie (Arsenal)
Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle)
Demba Ba (Newcastle)
Fernando Llorente (Athletic Club)
Axel Witsel (Benfica)
Luke Shaw (Southampton)
Julio Cesar (Inter Milan)
Joao Moutinho (Porto)
Mats Hummels (Bor.Dortmund)
Leighton Baines (Everton)
Luka Modric (Tottenham)
Of the 21 players listed, United actually went on to sign just one; Robin Van Persie (who the media had also claimed would be joining Manchester City and Juventus, by the way). That’s not even a 5% success rate. Interestingly, I couldn’t see any rumours about the potential purchase of Alexander Buttner. Buttner was United’s only purchase after Van Persie last summer, he joined from Vitesse Arnhem just a few days after his fellow Dutchman; seemingly under the media radar.
Given the resources, intelligence and in-sider contacts that journalists of these large media organisations must have, I would have anticipated a much higher success rate. Maybe I am being naive, with the money involved in the game now and the importance of the negotiations financially, for all parties involved, it’s important that discussions remain confidential. Players don’t want the fans to know they have negotiated with umpteen clubs, they have image rights to negotiate at their new ‘home’, and the fans perception is vital. So perhaps we shouldn’t expect to find out what’s happening at our clubs until deals are almost in place. These stories sell papers (and iPhone APPs), but lots of rumours rarely help the clubs or players involved in a move.
So, let’s enjoy reading about our team’s next star signing or debating the merits of accepting or rejecting that imminent £30 million bid for our current top player. But don’t get too excited nor too downhearted about the latest rumour, it may never happen.
I think I’ll just play Angry Birds on the train tomorrow…
Originally written on my Strength In Depth Blog