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October 2020

How a phantom transfer got Daniel Levy and the press all in a tizz.

By Tony Attwood

It was in August 2012 that I wrote an introduction to the craft of the Vapour Transfer, having in previous articles explored the way that the transfer market was being manipulated by clubs.

In that piece I drew a comparison with the activities of companies like Microsoft and Apple, with their pre-announcements of products that never appeared, and which were announced in order to make life difficult for the opposition by leading them in the wrong direction, stealing their thunder, or just causing mischief.

The US judge who looked into Microsoft’s approach to selling called it “a practice that is deceitful on its face and everybody in the business community knows it.”    After that, as I added, Vapour transfers gathered pace, being used to distract other clubs – but also being immediately distinguishable from the invented ramblings of a journalist who has either spent too much time in the pub or is too gullible for his own good by having a slight element of possibility within the story.

Since being “too gullible for your own good” has become a professional trademark both of a number of newspapers and the bloggettas, whose bizarre stories, Sir Hardly Anyone brings us on a regular basis.  But it looks like a Vapour Transfer tale is still able to draw in a big club and waste their time.

My point in the original article was that once you see the way in which Vapour Transfers work, suddenly the whole of the international transfer market becomes clear.

The vapour transfer type 1, the Distraction, tells of a player that Arsenal might be buying (but who in reality they are not) in order to put other buyers off, or in order to muddy waters or generally confuse.

The Vapour Transfer type 2 is the Deception and this invents a transfer relating to a player who is so good that their chief scout is “ordered” to “drop everything” and damn well start negotiating.  But the player (normally placed in Serbia or countries further east) doesn’t exist, or if he does, is very ordinary.  It drains resources as other clubs go looking for him.  The more they can’t find him the more they look.

The Vapour Transfer 3 is known as  The Destructive Expectation which says that a real player that everyone knows about, wants to leave and is about to sign for another club.

The media like this because they don’t have to do any work, and the bloggettas like this because it gives them their utterly crazy stories day by day.

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But there can be a nasty underside and if a club owning the rights to a player uses the scam, they have to be very careful.    The story breaks, and the player thinks about all the money he could make with a move.  His head is turned so he says, “I’m not signing a new contract.”  Remember at this stage the player’s club don’t want him to leave, but suddenly he’s all on edge.  His head is turned.  Negotiations and relationships become strained – it is a dangerous ploy.

Then the fans are excited by the story (which remember has no truth) and so are expecting the signing and the directors start asking the scouts what it is all about, and so the scouts have to go out looking, disturbing the equilibrium of the club where the player resides, even more.

But clubs can use this on one of their own players if they want to get their own back on a club that they feel has messed with them in the past.

This upsets the player, who refuses to believe that there is no story, and that it is all made up.  It upsets club with the player who were quite happy for the player to stay, and the club that is said to be about to buy the player who now have fans expecting a purchase.

So when we read in the Independent today that “Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy is said to be desperate to beat rivals Arsenal to Marseille hotshot Michy Batshuayi” some might have believed it to be true.  Or it might be a totally invented story – invented by a rivial of  Olympique de Marseille, or a rival of Tottenham (Man C and Man U come to mind) who are keen to see the Tinies stumble to make way for them.
Or it might have come from Marseille who simply wanted to annoy Tottenham because they have been sneaking around behind the scenes trying to sign this player or indeed another.

According to the Indy L’Equipe reported that D Levy has made it clear to the French club that they are after the Belgian.

And then, “Arsenal have also been linked to the striker but Spurs are reported by others to be leading the race for the striker who has scored 14 goals already this season,” proclaimed the Indy.  Here’s another possibility.  The TT’s knew they are home and dry with the transfer but want to get one over Arsenal by making it look like Arsenal want this player.

What we have to remember is that Tottenham do need cover for Kane who is the source of their charge up the league table this year.  Arsenal on the other hand have Alexis, Theo and Giroud who can score.  So it all looked realistic from a Tottenham point of view, although not from an Arsenal point of view.


As the Guardian said,

Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi signs new contract with Marseille

So how could there be so many stories that were wrong?  Why did so many newspapers hype up a story (and contnue to hype it up) until the very moment the real story broke.  (Except the Daily Express which ran a blog article saying the player was going to Tottenham TWO HOURS after he re-signed.
Did Tottenham really put in a huge bid for the player and get rebuffed?  Did they put in a little offer, and thus allow Marseille to keep him with a new salary offer?  Or was there never any offer at all and it was all just invented by someone who wanted to either disrupt Marseille or disrupt Tottenham.

Or was it that Marseille were really annoyed that they didn’t get Lamela in September after Tottenham Hotspur blocked the transfer taking place?  Lamela was widely tipped to join Marseille on a season long loan deal but it never came off and Marseille were left looking a bit silly by those who don’t know about the murky world of Vapour Transfers.

That actually may well have been the case.  Mr Levy prides himself on being a tough negotiator, but sometimes people have a way of getting one back at the tough guys.


Insult of the day (our regular riposte to the aaa) “Doubt not her care should be to comb your noddle with a three-legg’d stool, and paint your face and use you like a fool.” (Taming of the Shrew).

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8 comments to How a phantom transfer got Daniel Levy and the press all in a tizz.

  • Norman14


    You forgot The Vapour Transfer 4 is known as UTTER BULLSHIT and written by useless sports journalists for their equally useless rags because they can’t get hold of real news.

    The English media is full of it 😉

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Vapour transfer 5 – SHOW ME THE MONEY ! SHOW ME THE L0VE ! – Started by agent , player himself or family member in attempt at financial gain . A fake interest frenzy is created that gains momentum , fueled by the media and the club falls for this deceit .

    It can be as simple as the club not organising a birthday bash , or supporting the player’s bid to win best player awards or throwing a baby shower for expectant partner.

    Player gets his raise for his loyalty , the agent his windfall commission and the family member is paid by media for this alleged scoop . Said family may be even get a reward from club for persuading player to stay .

    Everyone is happy with this fake transfer until disgruntled player , agent or family member becomes petulant or turns greedy /rogue with a tell all book or an expose in the news .

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Head of state honored by Native Americans.

    The President / Prime Minister of ( insert name of your country ) insisted on addressing a major gathering of the American Indian Nation in upstate New York during his recent visit to America.

    He spoke for almost an hour about how the Native Americans should follow his blueprint for eliminating corruption, greater transparency and governance through meritocracy.

    Although Mr. ( write name of leader ) was vague as usual, he seemed most enthusiastic and spoke eloquently about his ideas for helping his “red sisters and brothers.”

    At the conclusion of his speech, the Tribes presented him with a plaque inscribed with his new Indian name, “Walking Eagle.”

    The proud head of state accepted the plaque and then departed in his motorcade to a fundraiser, waving to the crowds.

    A news reporter later asked the group of chiefs how they came to select the new name they had given to the visiting head of State.

    They explained that “Walking Eagle” is the name given to a bird so full of shit it can no longer fly.

  • Minesy

    This sort of thing has been going on for years though … just not necessarily in the press. When my Dad was a Shareholder in the early 70’s, Bertie Mee would apparently come into the bar after the AGM and talk quite candidly about players. One trick back then for a player who was getting a little too big for his boots, was to put him on the transfer list but warn all the other managers he wasn’t really for sale. Hence, two weeks later you could call him back in and say, you’ve been on the list for two weeks and we’ve not even had an enquiry about you !!!

    The best story he has was when a gentleman produced a list of players Arsenal HAD to sign to be successful and Mr Mee went through the list dismissing them all for various reason, from wage demands to drink problems, injury doubts to attitude problems … something I’m sure any modern manager would be able to do, but for the 24 hour news coverage we all have to endure these days !!!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Minesy – That story reminds me of the interview done by Brian Clough , where he narrates the instances where a player would go to him with certain suggestions on how to improve the team .
    said that he would sit him down and listen to the player and then that they would soon ‘come ‘ to the conclusion that Clough’s methods were the best after all !

  • franck

    Vapour Transfer number 6…link an unknown player with Arsene Wenger and all the top clubs in europe come calling.

  • goonersince72

    Thanks for your continuing efforts to expose the BS & hypocrisy of modern football. Where would we be without the media and players’ agents?

  • Goonermikey

    Vapour Transfer No. 7. If you want big money for a player start a rumour that Wenger rates him and wait for Chelski or the Manchester Oilers to pay five times the players value before sending him out on loan to a Spanish second division club never to be heard of again.