The British elections took a huge chunk of wind out of the sails of the transfer rumor mongers. But as sure as night follows day, unless Theresa May commits some other major hubristic political blunder between now and August, the click-whoring media will resume regular service. Transfer gossip it seems unites all parties, whether Conservative, Labour or UKIP and sells well internationally.
May I remind readers that, prior to the elections, the Kylian Mbappe media frenzy was in full swing. Absent any shred of real evidence, the English media took the standard option; spot any rumor from an overseas publication, preferably French, and trumpet it as proof that Arsenal is in a bidding war with other big European clubs for the young starlet. Below are a few headlines over the past week:
Arsene Wenger ‘promises Kylian Mbappe he will be Arsenal’s number 9 if he joins from Monaco in £122m deal’ – The Sun
Arsenal launch fresh Kylian Mbappe transfer bid, Monaco to decide at the weekend – The Metro
Monaco reject Arsenal’s £87m Kylian Mbappe bid – The Telegraph
Monaco to offer Kylian Mbappe new contract to fend off Arsenal and Real Madrid transfer interest – The Independent
Despite repeated public assertions by Monaco, through its owner and other surrogates, that Mbappe is not up for sale, it is evident that that the English press is keen to engender a down and dirty bidding war for Mbappe using Arsenal as a prop in this spectacle. After all, it is now well known that Arsene Wenger and his scouts, long before the youngster burst on the scenes, identified him as a hot prospect. Wenger in an interview on beIN sports in early May disclosed:
“The player would tell you that I was at his home last year to try to get him here,
“Because he was at the end of [his] contract but Monaco managed to keep him and the decision was very, very tight.”
But the Boss was not optimistic about his chances at making a deal in the future:
“Can Arsenal get him? I don’t know, that’s down to him. You know certainly as I do that today he will decide where he goes and say: Real Madrid? Maybe. Barcelona? Maybe. Arsenal? Manchester? He can go where he wants.
“So I don’t know what is his deep aspirations but maybe the best thing for him is to stay one more year at Monaco.”
Very shrewd statement by the Boss there. If Arsenal can’t get him then surely he should stay at Monanco.
But no words, no facts, it seems, will stop the English media from hyping this story. Immediately after Wenger was re-engaged as manager, the very same football media who had been campaigning against him, decided his link with Mbappe was too rich to ignore.
James Olley, a reknowned kindler of bogus Arsenal stories, wasted no time and on May 27th, had a big blaring headline in the Evening Standard:
Arsene Wenger given £100m to turn Arsenal into title winners with Alexandre Lacazette, Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Lemar among targets
The essence of his totally unsourced story is the boss had been handed a new deal and a fat juicy transfer budget. Conveniently bundled in is Mbappe as a transfer targets along with 2 others. His ruse is so transparent; should anyone of these transfers come true he will claim full credit.
But flagging up the Monaco man would have no legs in the 24-hour transfer news cycle until a Gallic source could be ginned up. Duly obliging, by June 1st there was a tweet by one Robin Bairner, supposedly associated with the well known French publication, L’Equipe, which was enough for EuroSport to blast:
Arsenal ‘bid €100m for Kylian Mbappe’
I checked Monsieur Bairner’s twitter account and found he is nothing more than a freelance football writer, specializing in France & Scotland, and who emphasizes his association with that mother of online transfer rumors Goal.com.
The flimsy veracity of the French reporting did not restrain The Mirror from repeating the rumor one day later:
“ Now Wenger’s future is settled, with confirmation of a two-year contract extension announced on Wednesday, attention turns to building towards a return to the Champions League next season.
“And the Gunners are willing to throw €100 million (£87m) at getting Monaco’s starlet Mbappe to the Emirates, says the paper.”
The byline used was one Mick Gadd. Apparently John Cross, who usually does the Arsenal beat, didn’t have the stomach for such obvious mendacity.
As is now obvious, the English media have been successful in building a giant story out of nothing, pulling in clubs far and wide:
June 5th – Daily Mail:
“Real Madrid set for a busy summer of departures, contract extensions, a presidential election and the pursuit of David de Gea and Kylian Mbappe”
June 5th – City Watch:
Real Madrid to make €135m bid Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappé – will Man City react?
June 6th – Manchester Evening News:
“Manchester United make world-record bid for Kylian Mbappe and more transfer rumours”
June 8th – The Sun:
“Chelsea enter race for Kylian Mbappe as Antonio Conte contacts Monaco’s teenage sensation”
This is a classic example of what is now commonly called fake news, the construction of a totally false narrative by the mainstream media which is projected as the truth. For the commercial media the primary purpose of this ginned up, artificial news is to generate eyeballs whether at the newsstand or on-line. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that the sports pages of any newspaper or sports division in the broadcast media is a profit center designed to be a huge source of revenue.
A secondary aim, based on the historical evidence, is to further fear and despair among Arsenal fans. Many, despite the abundance of facts to the contrary, have the completely unrealistic notion that their club can compete head-to-head with Madrid, United, Chelsea, and City for top talent in the market. The number of fans on twitter who seriously expect Mbappe to sign for Arsenal is frightening. If, as the Mirror claims, Arsene was granted a £100 million budget, how could that possibly purchase a player valued at £130 million by Madrid.
Too many Arsenal football fans, I am afraid, are the perfect example of the human guinea pig, whose love of their club is ultimately destroyed by being sucked into the deadly games of the mainstream media. It is all so predictable, Mbappe will most likely be signed by a big club which, given the media frenzy, is stampeded into ponying up over £100 million for the services of the young Frenchman. Our fans will completely lose their sh*t, blaming the club for lack of ambition when it was plainly unrealistic from the start to expect it to expend almost all its transfer budget on one player.
For those who remain calm, rational and objective, I offer you the words of the boss himself when asked by beIN Sports about how many signings he is expecting to make this summer:
“Between a maximum of two or three,
“We cannot spend as much as many other clubs because some clubs have external resources that allow them to be basically unlimited.
“When you buy a player for £40million, everybody will have at the start a positive judgement. When you buy him for £2million, he can’t be good?
“That means a big signing is not necessarily linked with the amount of money spent.”
A word to the wise should be sufficient.