By Sir Hardly Anyone
Many people question why I hang around in public houses as derelict and beaten up as the Toppled Bollard on Wapping Swamp, talking to derelict and beaten up so-called football journalists in an attempt to find out who is going to transfer to Arsenal this week.
And I must admit the Bollard is an odd place, a historic old house reminding one of London’s long forgotten past, a real old-world chateau full of interesting objects from the Ancien Régime largely in the form of newspaper scribblers. It is a relic of the past – a place full of old men with no knowledge making up stories, and then for the price of a pint selling them on to editors who claim to have got the tales from obscure foreign journals they know, no one in the UK will ever read.
But now the entire system is under threat, as Sport Witness have run the headline: “Arsenal look best placed to sign Brazilian, but move still doesn’t make sense.” Worse, it seems to come from an actual (rather than made up) foreign web site.
Now this notion that a transfer rumour doesn’t make sense has, up to this point been the property of Untold Arsenal, and thus I considered piece with concern and interest.
But fortuntely for me, Sport Witness stops short of asking that most vital of questions: “Why?” In this case, “why does the story that makes no sense get replicated in the media?” Is it because the story is made up by a football journalist, or because Arsenal is run by dopes who go round doing things that make no sense?
The site doesn’t say, but the thought that another sober person has entered the Toppled Bollard and started to write down what the “journalists” are mumbling is worrying. But nevertheless I shall pass the matter on for the tale here is that “Arsenal are named today as the most likely club to land the Valencia goalkeeper Norberto Neto this summer,” according to Deporte Valenciano, who say “El Arsenal parece el mejor colocado para hacerse con sus servicios y el brasileño podría terminar en la Premier, si sale del Valencia el equipo de Marcelino le echará de menos.”
Worrying times indeed, and I was pondering the matter deeply in the Bollard when a jolly upstart from Foot Lond, driven to despair by the need to create 40 new stories a day for that website, starting shouting a story into his walkie-talkie (or “smart-phone” as these journos like to call it).
Looking at the man my first emotion was one of surprise that so much human tonnage could have been assembled at one spot but I quickly refocussed and listened.
“The players linked with an Arsenal transfer today” he shouted above the din, as journalists stumbled over each other having consumed their tenth whisky since breakfast, By passing the debris I scuttled up to him and ask for the low down. His tales and those from assorted other sources are reported below…
At first I think he is saying hello in his usual slurred style, but actually he is referring to the Saint Etienne defender whom the club wants to loan to Arsenal. Arsenal however don’t want a loan deal, and as a result the player’s agent is in Manchester although whether this is because he is lost or because he just likes the weather there, no one is sure.
2: Dorukhan Tokoz
Up next comes Dorukhan Tokoz a 23 year old playing for Beşiktaş. AC Milan and Napoli are also said to be interested and the demanded price is €25m.
I once asked a newspaper publisher why he allowed such tittle tattle to be published in his newspaper. “As a publisher,” the old boy said, “I deplore the habit of my journalists of making stories up and then publishing them as if true, but looking at my bank balance I find love it. Football supporters seem to want such gibberish even though they know it is fantasy, and it makes me money, so you can’t say fairer than that.”
3: Yannick Carrasco
Moving on we spoke of this Belgian international who have been talked up by the Spanish paper Sport, and Sport Witness since last year. The Sun now has him at 1/10 to sign. He’s a winger with Dalian Yifang for whom he played 31 times last season, scoring 11. He is now aged 25. He has 31 caps for his country.
4: Kieran Tierney
It was at this point that my informant in the Bollard emitted a strange hissing sound like the death-rattle of a soda-water siphon. Picking him up off the floor and offering a restorative pint in Bells whisky I was told that Tierney is a Celtic player, who is currently unable to play as he has just had an operation, is tipped to complete Arsenal transfer by… well of course Foot Lond. He’s 22 and he’s a left back who has played 12 times for Scotland and over 100 times for Celtic.
5: Jordan Veretout
It was at this point that the entity from theKing Arthur at Camelot, had jumped up on his trusty steed and galloped off to rescue a fair maiden in distress or some such deed of derring-do, only to collide with a tree after five yards.
“Arsenal receive major transfer boost after approach for £27m midfielder,” he shouted to no one in particular before passing out. Peering at him I found a copy of the report he had just emiled his editor, still wet in his hands. It announced that Jordan Veretout’s agent has said his man is moving to a ‘big club’ and the unfortunate scribbler suggesting that much mean Arsenal, or perhaps somewhere else.
The player is with Fiorentina, he is a midfielder, he played for a while with Aston Villa, and now wants to come back to England.
And thus noting another jaunty ten minutes has now passed, I leave the famed drinking hole, and return to what counts for civilisation.
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