How a 14th monk described Arsenal’s failure to buy Moisés Caicedo and Mykhailo Mudryk



By Frankly Boring

The central problem with most football journalism is that it is transfer-focused, and most rumoured transfers don’t happen.  And unless Arteta makes a speech in which he says that yes he was trying to sign Moisés Caicedo and Mykhailo Mudryk and didn’t because…..  then we still don’t know the real story of why they ended up at Chelsea when virtually the entire football media told us at the time that Mudryk at least, was going to Arsenal and the deal was done.

So we don’t really know why two such expensive players, “who could end up costing Chelsea almost £200m” (according to a report in the Guardian) and who have failed to lift Chelsea from mid-table obscurity and a lost cup final, didn’t actually transfer to Arsenal as the media constantly suggested.

But we can think of all sorts of explanations such as…

a) Arsenal were getting ready to buy them when Chelsea came along with a bigger bid which Arsenal were not prepared to match.

b) Arsenal never were interested in the players – at least not at that price – but did not counter the stories being circulated by journalists either to encourage Chelsea to waste their money, or to cover up the details of who Arsenal really were trying to sign, or because Arsenal thought it was never worth the effort, as there would be another story coming along to replace that one.  

c) Arsenal were preparing to buy the players, but were arguing about petty points of details within the players’ contracts, and so were they outmaneuvered by Chelsea.

d) The clubs were happy with the deal but the player’s agent then got involved and it all got messy with last-minute extra demands.

e) The clubs were happy with the deal and so was the player, but the player’s partner was not and threatened the end of the relationship if it went through.  (Obviously, I just made that up, but there are a thousand variations on this which could be true).

But by and large the story that was circulated was one of Arsenal being nit-picking over contracts, and too slow to make a deal, and this is one that has been around for years.  But I want to suggest the origins of this  story goes back much further.

We certainly can take it that the story of Arsenal signing Mykhailo Mudryk was either never true, or was only true for a short while before Arsenal lost interest because of some element in the deal, such as the agent’s demands.  

In this scenario, Arsenal would have no interest in counteracting the tale, because its existence distracted from what Arsenal were really up to, namely buying other players.

Likewise, Chelsea would have no interest in counteracting it, because it took attention away from their deal.

Meanwhile, the media would be happy to run it because it required no work on their part.  They could just write up another aspect each day, knowing that in the end they could blame Arsenal when the deal didn’t happen.

In short, the existence of what turned out to be the false story about Arsenal signing Mudryk suited everyone, and so irrespective of where it came from, no one denied it, which made the story look, day by day, ever more true.

What’s more, even when the player finally signed for Chelsea, there was still a story sitting on the journalists’ desks, without any work having to be done, and this story would tell how Arsenal not only missed out on this deal but also on two other players the club could have had if only they had been more astute. The image of Arsenal is set.

The implication is also that the website or newspaper has close contacts with the club, and knows what is going on.  That heightens the journalist’s and media’s reputation ready for the next piece of make-believe.  

Indeed the story that Arsenal never had any interest, or at most simply made a tentative enquiry, but then failed to counteract the stories that the media became involved with, really did suit everyone because it required no work by journalists and hid from the media the real transfer that was going on, at least until the last week or so before the deal with signed.  It particularly suited Arsenal because it deflected from their interest in other players.  

What we also know is that 97% of last summer’s transfer rumours which were recorded in the media did not happen.   And that has been the case year after year.

So although we cannot prove that this is what happened, the explanation does have a benefit for everyone mentioned in the story (no work for the journalists, keeping the real deal out of the limelight until the last minute, keeping up the interest of gullible readers etc) and it is difficult to think of a different activity which could do all this at virtually no cost and with no energy or work required.

So what of Occam?.

In the worlds of both science and philosophy, you will find reference to Occam’s razor.  It is a principle often attributed to a 14th–century friar William of Ockham that says that if you have two competing ideas to explain the same phenomenon, you should prefer the simpler one.

Apply Occam’s razor here and you get the explanation above.  These transfers were never true, but the creation and continuation of the myth cost nothing and suited all sides.



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