The city of Barcelona and the football world as a whole was shocked to hear that FC Barcelona’s talisman and leading goal scorer, Lionel Messi, has apparently handed in a transfer request.
It is alleged that Messi wasn’t happy to hear that his mentor for the past few years, Pep Guardiola, was quitting his post as manager of the club’s first team. There was also talk that Messi was unhappy with this season’s trophy haul and is supposedly thinking of now moving to another club, possibly outside the La Liga as he doesn’t want to hurt the sentiments of the Catalan fans. Having won all available trophies at Barcelona, he is now looking for a new challenge. According to unnamed inside sources, he will choose a club that guarantees him Champions League football and one with a similar football philosophy.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who has been an admirer of Messi, is said to be keeping tabs on his contract situation. Arsenal is also considered to be a favourable destination but the financial clout of clubs like Manchester City and a new look Chelsea will be hard to resist for the young Argentine.
If you didn’t believe a word of what you read in the last one minute, I congratulate you!
It’s that time of the year again; when publications around the world (especially in Europe) come up with stories that range from the thoroughly bizarre to the absolutely outrageous. What else can guarantee a number of hits on their site during the off season other than a juicy transfer rumour that involves a world class player and a rival club (or league)?
It’s almost as if the editors send a memo out to their reporters stating, “Right, it’s going to be a slow news day. Come up with the best, probable transfer that could happen but eventually will not and give me a four hundred word story by the end of the day.”
To be frank, it’s an utterly pathetic cycle that occurs twice a year in January and in the summer at the end of a season. And we as the readers only feed the frenzy by actually visiting these sites to see if the story is authentic or downright bogus.
So how do we identify whether the story has any credibility or not? Well, take for example the first three paragraphs of this article where it talks about Messi leaving Barcelona. Almost every football fan knows that Messi owes Barcelona a debt of gratitude and that it will take much more than a season without a La Liga title or a Champions League win and the departure of Pep to convince Messi that he needs to look elsewhere to continue his career.
Now, take a second look. There are absolutely no quotes – by the player or a club official! Words like ‘apparently’, ‘unnamed sources’, ‘alleged’ is just a preface to hearsay. Yet, readers take one look at the article and ten minutes later Twitter is abuzz regarding the player’s ‘expected departure’ and the player’s name starts trending worldwide. Come back to the site a couple of weeks later, and you’ll find the same article with the paragraphs in a different order and a couple of new lines (like possible transfer fee) added to make it look like breaking news.
Transfer Deadline day is the worst day for a football fan. The amount of torture one goes through as various reporters are ‘witnesses’ to players arriving at an airport or helicopters ferrying the players to various clubs for a medical and agree on personal terms before the stipulated deadline.
At the end of it all, only a small percentage of the stories reported would be true. Most of the stories would be based on some half-baked rumours on social networks and the rest are based on reports in other websites. Isn’t that just unbelievable? To compete with their rivals, the website quotes lines from other websites that first reported the news… er, rumour. And soon the internet implodes with sites quoting other sources which never really existed in the first place! Even the clubs’ official websites have joined the party with a section dedicated to media reports related to the club. Just to get more hits.
As a football fan, I personally hate the off season! Sure, we could all use a small break from football now and then (I’m talking about a break till the Euros begin, relax!). But the media makes every fan’s life a living hell as they continue to report stories that make one set of fans bite their nails nervously at the prospect of a top player leaving their club as another set of fans rub their hands in glee in anticipation of said players joining their club.
And then there’s the football players who get the raw end of the deal and are at the receiving end of a torrent of abuse. Every player is obviously told by the club not to disclose any details and yet they are targeted by fans based on these same rumours. The player hasn’t said anything, the club has not even mentioned holding any talks let alone striking a deal, but in the fans’ eyes they are held responsible. It’s sad to see many professional players’ and managers’ loyalties questioned and having to defend themselves and come up with official statements when they are misquoted, lost in translation or just to prove a media rumour wrong.
Of all the sites, there is just a small handful that carries credible information pertaining to transfers and they have the moral responsibility to report it only if a club or player confirms it. A collective responsibility lies on the shoulders of the media and the fans to sift through rumours to find the truth.
Because, god forbid, the last thing we want to see now is a rumour linking Lionel Messi to a host of clubs based on this article!