By Tony Attwood
Now here is a twist and a half. It is being reported in some of the stranger quarters in the footballing world that our Mesut is saying that for him to sign a new contract Arsenal will have to sign Julian Draxler of Wolfsburg.
Of course it might be the case that Mr Wenger actually wants another midfielder but whether he does or not, the notion that a player might be inclined to put the buying of someone else as part of his contractual arrangements seems to me to be about as post-truth as you can get.
According to the Independent web site, “Draxler looks nailed on for a move in January after falling out with the Bundesliga club, despite only joining the club from Schalke last year, and he has been a long-term target on the radar of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
But they then go on to say that Arsenal “have shown a reluctance to move for Draxler though and did not lodge an offer when he left Schalke in 2015, but various reports suggest that Wenger remains keen on the Germany international and has kept a close eye on his availability over the last season.”
They report that (still according to RMC Sport) Özil has asked the club to move for Draxler “in a demand that would help convince him that agreeing a new deal is the right move for his career.”
Then almost immediately a new popup blog appeared running the headline
Mesut Ozil wants some of Arsene Wenger’s power before he signs a new contract at Arsenal
and beneath that pretty much the same story, clearly copied from the other blog.
Fascinated by all this I went a looking at RMC Sport and flipped through the latest articles that mention Draxler. I found one “Mercato: le PSG discute avec Julian Draxler” which also mentions Özil but it certainly does not contain a suggestion of anything to do with Özil trying to take control of who Arsenal buys.
Of course this sort of thing is not new. I remember quite some time ago, I found that a set of educational materials prepared to help teachers who work with dyslexic children that I had worked on, got a really bad review in a prestigious teachers’ magazine, the review being written by an Oxford University academic. He stated that the theoretical approach we had used as the basis for our work had been long proven to be not valid, and thus the whole approach was worthless. He gave a reference to back up his claim.
Bemused, because this was a subject I knew rather well, and because I’d never heard of such contrary evidence, I got hold of the book he quoted and read it. Curiously it proved exactly the opposite – the old fraud has just cited a vaguely relevant reference and imagined that no one would actually bother to follow it up. And he did this because… our materials rivalled a project he had contributed to the year before. Rather naughty, you might agree.
I came across this approach a second time when helping a friend with her divorce case. Her husband’s solicitor wrote a long letter citing various previous court cases as precedents aimed at showing that my friend’s case was invalid and she was entitled to little or no money. Again, being a pedantic sort of chap, I followed one of the references up, and found it referred to a case that had nothing whatsoever to do with my friend’s divorce. The lawyer was simply citing divorce cases at random in an effort to make the other side give up the fight.
Now what links these two little adventures of mine with the Draxler story in the Independent is this. First, it is true that no one generally bothers to check sources. Stick in a source (especially one that is in a foreign language, or in a long book or from an obscure court case) and there is every chance that your comments will be accepted.
But second, and even more interesting, few people move in to stop this sort of nonsense.
In each of the cases I mention above I took the matter further. I reported the Oxford senior lecturer to his college and to the journal, offering evidence of his “mistake” and noting that he was involved a rival set of materials the sales of which would be affected if our new approach held sway. The Oxford college that employed him said it was not responsible for the reviews of its academics. The journal didn’t reply.
In the divorce case I put it to my friend’s solicitor that a protest should be made concerning supplying false evidence but she insisted that this would not help. “One does not cast aspersions on the behaviour of the other side,” I was firmly told.
So when the little bloggetta says, “the club believe that Özil is much closer [than Alexis] to extending his stay at the Emirates and the addition of Draxler could be the move that seals his future,” there’s not much to do except expose them as a bunch of drongos.
As for Draxler, I’ve no idea if Mr Wenger wants him. Certainly there are reports that say that Paris Saint-Germain would like to sign him, but they could be made up as well. But let’s remember that not only might stories be made up, so might sources.
However let’s more on with a couple of nice pieces of news, or maybe invention. Francis Coquelin and Olivier Giroud are looking to sign new contracts. According to, oh, the Daily Mail.
Actually I do hope Coquelin stays, not just because I think he is a super player, but also because spotting him as someone who might make it when he first played for Arsenal at summer training camp (in the days before the mega summer tours of distant places) is just about my one triumph in spotting a player who could really become something.
And finally, I wrote a little piece the other day “It’s not the defeat that counts, it’s what happens next” in which I cited the route Arsenal had taken the last three times we’ve won the League – which is coming back from a poor position at the turn of the year.
I find it rather nice that the Telegraph has suddenly run a rather similar piece under the heading “Disappointed Arsenal have no time to feel sorry for themselves.” If we can get the press to copy just a few more Untold articles, we might even get them to copy a piece about refereeing by mistake. Now that would be success.
Tales from Untold