Balotelli to Arsenal and the 62 players listed this summer as joining him

By Tony Attwood

I reported last week in the Index update how surprised I had been throughout this first ever effort to chart the transfer rumours week by week, how quickly the rumours dry up.   

The first Arsenal Transfer Index was run on 20 April, ten weeks before the transfer window opened (and of course it still hasn’t opened let alone slammed shut as the saying goes, by which time we had 29 players lined up to be signed.

Over the next few weeks the numbers rushed upwards until suddenly around 7 June it all stopped.  Not because the transfer rumour manufacturers were all asleep (although many undoubtedly were, after a solid night’s inventing), but rather because they had by and large run out of players.

Instead what we then had was, “following Arsenal’s failure to get x” (where x was last week’s invented target for whom Arsenal had no interest) “Arsenal are now turning their attention to y” (where y was a player mentioned several weeks before by the same outlet, but now conveniently forgotten.

It is a clever trick, in that in one flip of the fingers on the keyboard the writer

  1. Writes a new story,
  2. Suggests that Arsenal are too slow while all other clubs are safely securing the players they want.
  3. Suggests that Arsenal have no strategy and are just dreaming up names and going after them,
  4. Doesn’t have to do any new work, because the “now turn attention to” player is one they wrote about five weeks before,
  5. Denigrates Arsenal throughout, because in the end around 98% of the players who will be listed obviously won’t go to Arsenal since Arsenal never were bidding for them anyway.

You can see this at the moment with the headline in the Telegraph this morning to the effect that “Mkhitaryan seeks Old Trafford move despite Dortmund’s refusal to sell”.  For weeks the story has been that the player is coming to Arsenal, then Dortmund weren’t selling, and now he’s going to Man U even though they are still not selling.

It doesn’t reflect well on Arsenal, but that of course is the idea.

I have always thought that writing transfer rumours as if they are true (rather than taking the piss out of them in a Sir Hardly type way) is a laziest and most dishonest way of filling up space.  But now it seems it is doubly so, because once the first list of transfers is created, it is just recycled, week after week, with the occasional knocking copy variant.

You will see a story in the Daily Express which quotes the Sun as saying x, and a story in the Sun that quotes the Mail, saying y, which if you go to look at it quotes a source in Spain as saying x which if you run it through the translator quotes the Express as saying x, and so on.  No one takes responsibility, and when the transfer doesn’t happen everyone says, “well as we pointed out at the time, it came from ….” and then fill in the name of another newspaper.

It is the ultimate way of treating one’s readers with contempt – and indeed it was the obvious fact that only about 2% of transfers actually happen as predicted, that Untold started the Sir Hardly Anyone reviews of transfer rumours.

But now it seems it is more underhand than ever.  And that is one more thing we’ve learned about the transfer invention industry – there is a limit to the inventiveness of journalists engaged in this rubbish so they go back round in circles.

It is the complete and absolute con trick.

Here is the current Index of Players Cited as being involved in an Arsenal transfer.   At least this year no one has had the nerve to suggest that we are after Ballotelli, which is what they were running last year.

Arsenal transfer rumours: £15.8million Mario Balotelli fee and personal terms agreed ready for move?

Daily Mirror, July 2014


The Index Part One: Players coming in.  New entries in bold


Player Position From Current status Also interested
1 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Forward B. Dortmund Being urged to leave Man U
2 Carlos Bacca Forward Juventus 49 goal striker Real Mad buy back clause
3 Michy Batshuayi Striker Marseille £22m asking price Chelsea
4 Riechedly Bazoer Cen mid. Ajax Barcelona, Chelsea, Man U, Tottenham
5 Medhi Benatia Centre back Bayern 29 years old prone to injury
6 Christian Benteke Striker Liverpool? Only done one year at Liverpool?  
7 Rodrigo Bentancur Midfield Boca Juniors Real Mad, Juve
8 Karim Benzema Striker Real Mad Involved in court case
9 William Carvalho Def mid Sporting Lisbon
10 Edinson Cavani Striker PSG He’d like to come
11 Ben Chilwell Left-back Leicester “Arsenal monitoring”
12 Troy Deeney Striker Watford WFC captain
13 Mario Götze Attack midfield Bayern Munich Flopped after Dortmund Liverpool
14 Goncalo Guedas   Wing Benfica Next C Ronaldo Chelsea
15 Raphaël Guerreiro Left-backmidfield Lorient
16 Alen Halilovic. Attack midfield Barcelona Last season loan to Sporting Gijon,
17 Rico Henry Full back Walsall Next Ashley Cole
18 Gonzalo Higuain Striker Napoli Man U, Liverpool?
19 Rob Holding Winger Bolton £1.5m already signed
20 Zlatan Ibrahimovic Striker PSG Self proclaimed God Man U
21 Mauro Icardi Striker Inter Man C Man U
22 Odion Ighalo Striker Watford
23 Chiori Johnson Defender Aged 18, Now signed
24 N’Golo Kante Midfield Leicester Won the most tackles
25 Naby Keita Central mid Red Bull Salzburg
26 Toni Kroos No 10 Real Madrid £45m
27 Grzegorz Krychowiak Midfield destroyer Sevilla
28 Kalidou Koulibaly Napoli Signed and Sealed (Metro) but… Dependent on Chambers going (Metro)
29 Alexandre Lacazette Forward Lyon French League top scorer 2014.15 Supposedly going to WHU
30 Robert Lewandowski Striker Bayern About to break the bank
31 Romelu Lukaku Striker Everton Broke Everton’s PL scoring record  
32 Marquinhos Defen PSG Man U Man C  Chelsea and Bayern Munich
33 Riyad Mahrez Wing Leicester £25m Considered him while at Le Havre
34 Kostas Mitroglou Striker Benfica “Happy in Portugal”
35 Arkadiusz Milik Striker Ajax
36 Henrikh Mkhitaryan Midfield B Dortmund Liverpool! Chelsea, Tottenham
37 Alvaro Morata Striker Juventus (loan) Real Mad Said to be the next one to happen AFC talking to Real Mad direct
38 Ruben Neves Defend midfield Porto
39 Kelechi Nwakali Midfield Diamond  Academy Already joined for £3m WHU, Bayern, Chelsea, Man U Liverpool?
40 Domingos Quina Midfield Chelsea
41 Adrien Rabiot Midfield PSG Asked for a move, not liked by fans Chelsea, Man U
42 Rafinha RB Bayern Munich Metro utterly certain
43 Jese Rodriguez Forward Real Mad Surplus to requirements
44 Maxi Romero Forward All Boys, Argentina The new Messi We were going to sign him last year but he got injured
45 Daniele Rugani   Centre back Juventus Can’t get a game. Man U
46 Riccardo Saponara Attack midfield Empoli Liverpool?
47 Ryan Sessegnon Winger Fulham Liverpool?
48 Islam Slimani £23.25m Sporting Lisbon   £23.25m Tottenham, Leicester
49 Dominic Solanke Chelsea Chelsea want to keep him
50 John Stones CB Everton
51 Daniel Sturridge Striker Liverpool? “Will reportedly…” “Tried last year”
52 W. Szczesny Goal Loaned to Roma Returning AFC & Roma can’t agree on loan arrangements so coming back.
53 Jon Toral Attack midf. Arsenal (loaned to Brum)
54 Yaya Toure C Mid Man City
55 Arda Turan Attack midfield Barcelona Struggled at Barca
56 Jamie Vardy Forward Leicester £20m Signed but kept it a secret or he’s off to Liverpool or just wasting everyone’s time.
57 Victor Wanyama Def. midf. Southampton
58 Julian Weigl Midf. Borussia Dortmund £20 million
59 Granit Xhaka Defend/ midfield Monchengladbach “Deal done”  He signed. Chelsea.  
60 Andriy Yarmolenko Winger Dynamo Kiev Tottenham Liverpool
61 Simone Zaza Forward Juventus
62 Karl Zouma Keeper Chelsea  (Unlikely if we have Cech, Szcz and Ospina already).
Part Two Departures
1 Alexis Forward Asking for transfer
2 Arteta End of  career
3 Bellerin Full back Barcelona Must be the DNA But also denied
4 Chambers Centre back Southampton or Watford? 1 year loan
5 Debuchy Been on loan
Mat Flamini midfield End of contract The last “Highbury” player to leave AFC
6 Kieran Gibbs Defend Unhappy
7 Per Mertesacker Defend Considering his future
8 David Ospina Goal Besiktas  Having a brilliant Copa America
9 Rosicky End of contract  Injured during Euros
10 Santi Cazorla Mid/For Back to Villareal
11 Mesut Ozil Midfield Delayed talks
12 W. Szczesny Goal Roma Now said to be returning
13 Walcott Wing State Aid Utd or Liverpool? £20m On the verge; or maybe not going
14 Jack Wilshere Midfield Man U They will build the team around him
Part Three: Coaching
Thierry Henry Under 18 Accepted post
  Part Four: Up from the youth
1 Jon Toral Attack midf. Arsenal Loaned to Birmingham  Their player of the year
2 Gedion Zelalem Attack mid Arsenal Loaned to Rangers
3 Chris Willock Attack midf. Arsenal Played in U21s.
4 Jeff Reine-Adélaïde Wing Arsenal Kept at Arsenal and not loaned
Players going on loan
Dan Crowley Midfield Arsenal Coventry
Players leaving
Ilias Chatzitheodoridis U-18 no new contract
Players signing pro forms
Donyell Malen
Joshua DaSilva

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15 Replies to “Balotelli to Arsenal and the 62 players listed this summer as joining him”

  1. You had me for a moment there Tony. LOL they will bring him up one of these days. Balotelli that is of course….

  2. It’s sad to think that despite all the evidence Tony has presented which shows how journalists make up and recycle transfer rumours you can bet that quite a lot of fans will fall for it and will be blaming Arsene Wenger for failing to sign x, y and z.

  3. Talking of goalies, we have a fourth great goalie, Emi Martinez, only 23, been on loan to Wolves. I forgot about him till I saw a tweet from him on the Arsenal web site.

  4. I just don’t have the time for it, nor the experience to make a ‘market study’ of this quality, yet I wonder what we would come up with if instead of looking at Arsenal transfer rumors (or inventions ?) someone would do same for Spurs or MU or another club.

    My take is that we would find the same crap as they have to sell clicks and adverts anyways and don’t care about the club and player, and agents (and or players) need to make a fuss to get what they hype are better deals.

    Guess it has become the same incestuous relathionship as between the ‘people’ press and the (so-called) people.

  5. Superb writing Tony. You make all the Wenger out pseudo gooners look like a rented St Tottering drum majorettes band. Wenger this, Wenger that, my unbooted smelly foot, Arsenal is in a good space and I cant wait for the new season. But please elaborate on the fate of the Nigerian youth players, one is said to have signed, the other is said to have bolted. Whats up on that?

  6. Apparently Neil Lennon compared our newest signing to; wait for it…. Charlie bloody Adams. That’s like comparing a fine caviar to a doner kebab!

    Already the pundits and commentators are voicing their concerns about his tackling capabilities. The commentator last night, also questioned his work-rate. I was under the impression these were meant to be one of his strong points? He has yet to even put on a Arsenal shirt and already the slight digs have begun.

  7. Who was that dickhead on the BBC who kept having a go at Granit? He obviously had an “idiot screen” in front of him that kept him saying things that weren’t what the pictures showed. To top it off, as both games were on at the same time, how can the BBC get away with continuously mentioning the score in the other game?

    FFS, we, the taxpayer, actually pay for this shite!

  8. On the honest side of things and on a reality note, the Boss has appeared to have told the media rumour mill machine yesterday to soft pedal at churning out more Arsenal transfer rumours in this current summer window. But they could resume at churning out more rumours for Arsenal during the next winter window next year.

    Because, Arsenal are more than contented with the transfer rumours being churned out for the club as the Boss may not go beyond signing 2 more senior players they’ll likely to sign this summer after they’ve signed Granit Xhaka.

    On the contrary, I was appealing to the Boss yesternight on this same media site, the UA, to be more dignified in the numbers of his signing new senior incomers for Arsenal this summer to increase the numbers from 3 to 4 signings.

    Save if the Boss has a youth player he will be promoting from the Arsenal Under 21 squad into the senior team midfield squad who is almost clocking 20 years in his age, to in quality makeup the numbers of the 3 midfield Gunners who have left just before the signing of Elneny and after the arrival of Xhaka, the Boss could then stop at 2 additional senior player signings of a CHB(Rod Holding?) and a highly graded versatile striker who can both efficiently lead the line for Arsenal and operates very well from the right side of the forward line(still Vardy or who?).

    But if the Boss will not promote a matured midfield Gunner youth player to the senior team midfield(Chris Willock?), or convert Mavididi for his body frame and goals scoring prowess to a CAMF for Arsenal, despite the likely return of Jack Wilshere into full action for Arsenal at the start of next season and the presence of Walcott still at Arsenal, both of whom are more of 2 mid-right wingers for Arsenal. The Boss should then be more magnanimous to us we the Arsenal fans and the prospect of his team during the long season campaign by signing 1 CAMF, a Striker & a CHB for Arsenal all in this window after his signing of Xhaka.

  9. I think the reason the transfer stories have dried up is simply because the Euro’s have started. A finite number of journo’s, a finite number of pages. And the latest on Roy’s selections and so on is of more interest right now. Also, most international managers try to get their players 100% focused on the tournament. Indeed, I think England have banned agents from the hotel?

    As soon as the tournament ends, or England are eliminated, the volume of rumours will turn up several notches.

  10. Dont know when this was written but Chiori Johnson has been with us for ages. has played as a full back and and a winger.

  11. Tony
    On a slightly different tack, I read an article by Oliver Kay of The Times on Saturday, entitled “Toothless Germany highlight dearth of high quality European goalscorers”
    The main part of the article was about Mario Goetze being used as a false 9 by Germany in match vs Poland.

    But half-way down the article Kay wrote:
    “more and more, one is reminded of Arsene Wenger’s diagnosis of the dearth of pure strikers produced by European countries due to the decline in “street football” “South America is the only continent to develop strikers today”

    (Kay later blotted his copy book by criticising Arsenal for “its lack of ruthlessness, decisiveness and aggression in both areas”)

    But my take on the main thrust of the article was: if you’re a club with one of these scarce “true” strikers, why would you let them go? Even if you put a high price on the player, and sell, you then have to get a replacement from a shrinking talent pool.

    Why would Napoli let Higuain leave, ditto Madrid with Benzema, Morata or Bacca. The AWOBs demand that Arsene buys one of these “top, top” strikers to replace Giroud. But the chances of any of them going anywhere soon is frankly limited.

    Ditto with the top strikers in the EPL: Kane would not join us, Vardy is likely to stay put, Sturridge (a big injury risk) the same, and Lukaku (who I think would be a great fit) is likely to cost £50mill.

    We need someone to complement Ollie and add another 15+ goals to convert some of the many chances Ozil creates: that’s why Vardy was a clever move. I would give Joel Campbell and extended run in the team – he combines well with Ollie and Alexis, and he works hard on defence (just probably needs to be a bit fitter).

    P.S. Vincent Janssen from AZ Alkmaar should also be on the list

  12. BarryL
    We have another 15 plus goals player, but he’ll probably return shattered from Copa America and we’ll not get the best from him till mid November, if then.

  13. My apologies about Chiori Johnson – yes he has been with us for ages. He did pop up on a bloggetta as a new signing, we spotted that he was already with us, but not how long he had been! Sorry.

  14. “I think he looks an Arsenal type player,” Murphy said.

    “My only concern is his defensive abilities. He’s not a super athlete and he’s not someone who will get at you and close you down. But from a footballing perspective, he’s very good.”

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