By Sir Hardly Anyone
The last time we ran our review of the players said to be coming to Arsenal Mykhaylo Mudryk was reported as making the move in 53 different reports. 19 of those reports involved a publication running the story more than once. In fact HITC ran the story on eight separate occasions.
Yet the player went to Chelsea, as we now know. So how did 53 separate reports get it so wrong?
Of course their answer is that Arsenal refused to cough up the money, but look back to early reports and you won’t find any mention of that. “‘Arsenal are there'” announced TBR in one of the first reports we cited.
Now there is no apology from the media, for it was all Arsenal’s fault that the deal was not completed. Just as it was all Arsenal’s fault that they paid £72m for Nicolas Pépé. And that’s the point: it is always Arsenal’s fault whichever way they move, and it is never the media’s fault for calling a forthcoming transfer wrongly. And in a way one can see the media’s point. How are they supposed to run football reporting columns at no cost to themselves if Arsenal simply won’t do what the media say?
The answer turns out to be simple. The media continue with more and more fantasy tales of who Arsenal are signing, secure in the knowledge that because every other outlet does it, their word will be believed. The player is there for the taking, but Arsenal will dither or be outbid. Except when they are not as with Pépé and then that is Arsenal’s fault for buying the wrong player.
In reality, it makes a total mockery of all the transfer tales they spew out every day – in the last run through 53 separate players were touted as coming Arsenal’s way this month. And just for the record here is the hall of shame that we recorded – and here we only list the “outlets” that ran the story more than once.
Give me Sport (9 reports), HITC (7), TBR (8), Hard Tackle (3) Caught Offside (4) Arsenal Station (2) Mirror (2).
But of course, the failure of the media to predict that Arsenal would not get the player, means nothing to the media, and instead we are immediately off with Arsenal make Rice top summer transfer target with hope of £70m deal today in the Telegraph who also run Arsenal stung by Chelsea’s Mudryk deal – so where do they go from here?
As for what really happened, well that is more complicated, and not really something that the media want to go into. But part of the picture now ignored is that as The Athletic reported six months ago, “Shakhtar Donetsk are seeking €50million worth of damages from FIFA and have filed papers in the Court of Arbitration for Sport… appealing a ruling that allows foreign players to unilaterally suspend their contracts in the war-torn country.”
According to that story, Fifa ruled that non-Ukrainian players and coaches had the right to suspend their contracts with Ukrainian clubs until 30 June 2023, if there was no agreement about releasing players by 30 June 2022. “Shakhtar had wanted to sell their [foreign] players to cover the club’s losses and assist the war effort. Fifa’s approach meant that after that date players were free to move, and a range of transfers organised by Ukraine’s clubs fell apart. Thus Shakhtar had to sell Mudryk (a Ukraine national) to avoid him leaving on a free.
Thus there is a second point. In the media frenzy about Arsenal buying Mudryk no one knows how good Mudryk will be, and how long he will stay injury free. Certainly, Chelsea’s record in buying players of late is not that great According to Transfermarkt they bought 12 players in the summer transfer window (excluding those returning on the end of a loan) and they are currently doing even worse than Liverpool…
That table makes the decision by Mudryk to go to Chelsea all the more interesting. If asked, he would probably say that he was persuaded by the “project”, but being 19 points behind having played one game more isn’t much of a project – at least at the moment.
Arsenal bought four players last summer (Jesus, Vieira, Zinchenko, Turner), Chelsea bought nine (not counting Fofana and Mudryk): Marc Cucurella, Raheem Sterling, Benoît Badiashile, Kalidou Koulibaly, Carney Chukwuemeka, Andrey Santos, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, David Datro Fofana. Perhaps fewer is sometimes better. And maybe those ceaseless stories about the fact that Mudryk was already signed way back in December, were just media fantasies. Whoever would have thought it? They all seemed so certain.
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