Arsenal transfers: a perfect example of how make-believe rumours work




by Sir Hardly Anyone

We have often noted that each summer around 97% to 98% of the stories running in the media about players Arsenal are buying, result in no purchase.  No apology is ever forthcoming from the media involved, although sometimes a subsequent article claims that Arsenal were simply too slow, or offering ludicrously small amounts of money for a player.  In short, the purchase could have gone through if only Arsenal had been on the ball.

However, there are also good reasons to take the view that most of these transfers were never on in the first place.   Consider for example the example of Raphinha who plays for Barcelona.

On 7 May this year the notorious Football.London website owned by the group that runs the Daily Mirror and numerous other such publications, ran the headline “Raphinha to Arsenal transfer: Edu talks, price tag revealed …”

The article then stated “7 May 2023 — Barcelona attacker Raphinha continues to be linked with a move to Arsenal ahead of the summer transfer window.”

Later in that article, it gets to the point: “According to Spanish outlet Sport, Raphinha is ‘considering leaving’ Barcelona this summer due to a lack of game time with the former Leeds man also concerned about what the potential arrival of Messi could do to his place in the team.

But is he really going to Arsenal?

According to the article in “Sport” which is in Spanish, the story is NOT that Raphinha is leaving, but rather that he would merely consider leaving if Messi were to leave Inter Miami and go to Barcelona (which is of course incredibly unlikely, if for no reason other than the fact that Barcelona have just had their credit rating reduced to D Minus, the lowest possible and so can’t afford Messi).  

OK, so let’s forget the Messi part of the story, that’s clearly nonsense, but think of Dembélé being picked by Barcelona, ahead of Raphinha.  That’s likely to be true – so maybe he does want to leave to get a regular first team spot by leaving.  But, hang on, on the wing, Arsenal already have Saka on one side and Martinelli on the other.  So is there any chance Raphinha would come in and make either of those players start on the bench?   Those two players each scored 15 goals for Arsenal last season.  Dembélé scored eight.

So this report which says that “Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle United are all interested in acquiring his services, with Gunners Sporting Director Edu making ‘constant calls’ to the player’s representatives,” is very hard to reconcile with any form of reality that most of us are in touch with.  He’s not as good as what we have got, and those two young players looked destined to stay.

Of course if we are talking about possibliities, yes anything is possible (except perhaps an anti-gravity machine, which seems to disobey the laws of physics), just as it is possible that Mikel Arteta will put a call through to Untold Arsenal’s office and ask us for our opinion on the best place to buy croissants.   But is it likely?  Absolutely not, because there is no way Arsenal are going to drop either Saka or Martinelli, so the player would be entering Arsenal with even less chance of playing than he has at Barcelona.

And let us remember that last season at Barcelona he started 35 games in all competitions.  Last season Saka started 42 and Martinelli 40.  They are also both six years younger than Dembélé, so again why would any change be made?

Thus the notion that Raphinha would consider leaving Barcelona because of a lack of games and come to Arsenal to get more games is not just utterly bonkers, it is also mindless gibberish.   And indeed we can see that because there is no consideration given in the story to the issue of who Arsenal would drop in order to allow the player to play on the wing.  Yes, he might be sought to be a sub in case either of those players got injured but as things stand Arsenal already have other players who could do the job.  But mostly he very specifically doesn’t want to be a sub.

Now of course there could be something here I don’t know – something that could make the whole story seem more plausible, if not more likely.  But then in that case surely the Football.London story would have provided that extra fact, yet they don’t.  The conclusion is that the extra fact that would make it all make sense does not exist.  It is as we first thought “utterly bonkers”.

And yet this story is not unique – there are hundreds of such nonsense tales every week – not nonsense because they don’t happen but nonsense because they make no sense at all and are never likely to happen.

And here is the simple test we can apply to all of them.  If a player is touted for Arsenal the question has to be “why?”  What would he bring that the side doesn’t already have?   If there is no mention of that, you can be fairly sure it is a fairy story.   As indeed most football reporting is.

Now I don’t mind Aaron Catterson-Reid mindless tripe, although it really does make me worry about the quality of the journalism degree course at the University of Newcastle, but what does worry me is when this sort of fake journalism becomes the dominant force in football reporting, and some supporters start believing it.  When that happens we might start worrying about the state of the whole of our education system.

7 Replies to “Arsenal transfers: a perfect example of how make-believe rumours work”

  1. I would agree that Raphinha to Arsenal makes zero sense, but Jurrien Timber to Arsenal made a similar lack of sense and it happened. Arsenal have William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes as well as Rob Holding and Jakob Kiwior at center back. Two starters and two reserves. Timber as a reserve makes little sense, which means someone goes to the bench; but Saliba just signed a new deal and Gabriel seems undroppable in the Arteta-verse. Timber at right back is possible, but Arsenal played Ben White there last season, ahead of right back Takehiro Tomiyasu; both of whom are good players and both of whom are still on the roster. ‘Rewarding’ White with a demotion seems like bad man management, and burying Tomiyasu seems silly, less than two years after signing him.

    Similarly, Arsenal are linked to various forwards with a 20 goal scorer, Folarin Balogun on the roster and rumored to be on his way out. The club signed Kai Havertz, a 7 goal scorer.

    So, while it is true that signing Raphinha makes zero sense, I’m not sure you can dismiss it so easily.

  2. I believe Tony is saying getting Raphinha to sign in the hope of outplaying a 15 goal striker when he had issues outplaying a 7 goal striker doesn’t make sense from Raphinha’s point of view. Why would he do that to himself?

  3. The only reason that anti-gravity machines have been hitherto unsuccessful is because their operators have not been reading the instruction manuals, and installing them upside-down.

    I know that this is the case. I read it in a newspaper.

    I’ve recently been reading some old articles from They are in agreement with Untold Arsenal regarding the press’ failure to report on important issues within football (and other sports) whilst filling their pages with bland, uninformative trivia.

    What is the difference between CONCACAF and Concacaf? Answers on a postcard.

  4. Just wait till AI starts to save money for the press by firing all those shit making journos , and replace them with free AI inspired crap ! Well it will be more bar time , but no money !
    What fun we shall have when more dubious figures and stats are trotted out as the Gospel truth . Not to mention fake clips of said individuals .

    What if …, just what if the PIBMOB are able to manipulate the videos on the ref’s screen ? More controversy ?

    A new uncharted world is upon us !

  5. They have to fill pages, print or web. There really isn’t enough real news to fill said pages so they make it up, whole cloth. I just don’t read it. I like to keep my head from exploding.

  6. Brickfields Gunners

    “What fun we shall have when more dubious figures and stats are trotted out as the Gospel truth”

    As Winston found out. Deny them at your peril.

  7. I think I read an article footer in the Mirror a few days ago stating that the related article was produced with the help of AI.

    It has already begun.

    The article was the same mindless drivel that we are used to seeing at their site (and many others, too).

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