This is Part 3 (and the final part) of my mini-series on the Wacky World of Transfers in which I cover Sources and What to Watch Out For. Enjoy and catch Part 1 which covers Perspective and Basic Transfers here and Part 2 which covers Complications and Arsenal in the Transfer Window here. Youknowit – OG
Sources of Information:
I love a good sauce: HP, A1, ketchup – all good in my books.
But seriously, I’d be remiss to not go over some common sources of transfer gossip and information. I’ve already covered that the club operate under a shroud of secrecy which means you should be suspicious of all sources – remember – not until it is on dot com. But amongst the bullshit peddled by the papers and on social media – there are always some kernals of truth – if you know where to look.
Whenever you read something online, or in print, remember these guidelines:
1. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is (this is why I never truly bought into the Kevin Doyle rumours)
2. Who is giving you this information and how would they have gotten it (if Metro Sports Reporter wrote the article you’re reading, walk away slowly without making direct eye contact – like coming across a bear in the wild)
3. Why would they share this information – what is the motive (@hotpantstransfers69 just leaked that Messi was set to join us on a 4 year deal – I just have to download some software to get the details)
4. Deals can change quickly – what is accurate information one day may be completely incorrect the next (this one sounds like a cover my ass comment but the reality is – it’s true)
5. Quotes are often not time stamped – beware of the rehashed quotes and quotes taken out of context.
We’ve talked about utter secrecy and the possibility of a gag order being in place so if you’re hearing about a deal from a source, it’s not likely someone close to the deal. This isn’t always the case and often protracted deals do get leaked to apply pressure on a dithering party. The important thing is to ask why this information is being shared – most times the answer will provide clarity on the legitimacy of a deal.
Another top tip during the transfer window is to not listen to a word Arsène says during the transfer window. If you happen to catch a press conference, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE TAKE HIS COMMENTS AT FACE VALUE. The number of times I’ve seen complete chaos break out because Arsène has said we aren’t/are buying someone in a press conference is bordering on the unimaginable. Arsène has a well-documented track record of both lying and telling the truth when it comes to transfers – remember there is little to no benefit to him or the Club to tell us what is going on.
As for journalists, like anything, some are more reliable than others. There are always certain ones connected to the club that share information: David Ornstein of the BBC has gained particular notoriety as “the Oracle” when it comes to Arsenal and transfers. He rarely tweets about them but when he does, it is usually bang on. I also like Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph, Amy Lawrence of the Guardian, and poor old John Cross of the Mirror. While all of them have a connection to Arsenal, I do feel the need to point out that the latter is not the most reliable of the bunch. In addition, it’s important to understand that what is reported in the press could be intentionally misleading as part of the slow dance that is our transfer dealings. Note that this isn’t to suggest any of the above have done that.
The papers themselves can be a bit of a gong show. The cool thing with papers is that once they publish a transfer story, you can follow it through to see if it is accurate or not. In fact, there are studies which report on the accuracy like this one that shows the Guardian is statistically the most accurate. There are others of course too, a quick Google search will reveal them – it’s hardly earth shattering information.
One way to see multiple web sites and newspaper articles is to use NewsNow. NewsNow aggregates all of the online material and sorts it by date – allowing you to quickly scan headlines and link to them. You can also see the top stories from the past 24 hours to see who is reading what. NewsNow can also separate out Top Sources which generally removes the click bait bloggers and papers. I would highly recommend selecting Top Sources before you even start reading the headlines. I’ve included All Sources in the link above.
A subset of the journalists and papers are the translators. Many of these folks will translate a foreign media source like Sky Italia or AS and pass it off as new information. There are some that genuinely scoop good information but more times than not, you’re not getting any new source of accurate information. If you’ve been blocked by a particular Italian who likes “Espressino, not Espresso” – you already know this rule.
Very few people that fly under the guise of the term ITK – or In The Know – on Twitter or anywhere else actually know what is going on at the club. This includes me so if you’ve read this far – I’ve successfully conned you. Yay me! I kid – I’m not ITK (remember). This can usually be sussed out by following guideline 3 above – what’s the motive to share? If the answer is attention – that’s probably all it is – an attention getter.
There are however a select few people who legitimately know a deal is going on – often their motive is just pure excitement (if you knew we were talking to Kalou, wouldn’t you be excited and want to share with your fellow Gooners). The problem is that we as followers have hounded them out or dismissed them as attention seekers. In addition, if you say something to a few thousand of your closest friends and the deal changes, you’re going to get abuse. Most true ITK’s keep quiet these days because of the ruthless mentality of the mob. Let’s face it, if you leak we’re signing James Milner and the deal falls through, I’d have my torch and pitchfork in hand.
Finally there is a grouping of agents, family members, and even team mates of players. You’ll often find these people speaking to the media but again, remember that people close to the deal are often under a gag order: if a player is about to sign with us, these people aren’t going to be blabbing to the press or tweeting about it on social media. Also check the original dates of the quotes to make sure they aren’t rehashed from previous interviews. Generally, these quotes will be put out to generate interest, invite bids, secure a better contract at their current club, or get Arsenal back to the negotiating table after we’ve moved on after some initial interest (happens probably more than we know about).
What to Watch Out For:
There are some things that should set your alarm bells ringing in the same manner that a 2 for 1 burrito deal does at a small, no name gas station in North Texas (true story for another blog). These are red flags and should make you suspicious of the information instantly.
Wage Demand or Transfer Fee Leaks: Someone is attempting to apply pressure via the media (or it is made up). We don’t disclose this information and if a deal is going well and to plan there is no reason to leak this information.
In the summer, much was made of Sami Khedira’s wage demands. One year away from a Bosman free transfer and likely looking at what was on offer from Real Madrid, the leaked wage demands were likely serving two purposes – publicly letting Real Madrid know they needed to offer more, or issuing a come and get me plea to prospective teams. While I do think we were talking to Khedira, as soon as I heard leaked wage demands, I suspected we wouldn’t see him at the Emirates during the summer transfer window.
Player Swaps: These tend to come up every window – Club A wants Player 1 at Club B and they offer up a few bucks and Player 2. The problem with these is that they rarely ever come off and that is because you are introducing yet another party to have to agree to the move, wages, the value etc… These aren’t impossible and they do happen, but they are rare and should make you question a deal. They are more likely idle minds at a paper adding 2+2 and getting 5.
3rd Party Ownership: See my explanation earlier in this blog. We hate these and it is the rumoured reason a deal for Carvalho fell apart in the summer. 3PO adds complications, is not allowed in the Premier League, and can artificially inflate price.
Players Professing Their Love for Arsenal: Oh boy – we get a lot of this don’t we? A player shows up in the media pictured in a replica kit and talking about their dream to play for their boyhood club, Arsenal. Whether it is to get a better deal from their current club or to let Arsenal know publicly that they want a transfer, we rarely ever see these guys actually at Arsenal. Remember that Jenkinson’s love for the club was widely known after he signed.
I do think that in some of these cases we’ve made initial contact and then the situation has changed and we’ve moved on – a bit like that ex-Girlfriend who regularly sends you provocative pictures in your favourite t-shirt as a last ditch attempt to get you back.
The Super Agent: If it’s being reported that we’re in for a player represented by Jorge Mendes, you might as well assume that the player is going to Chelsea, Manchester United, PSG, or Real Madrid. Mendes clients include Mourinho, Falcao, Ronaldo, Di María, and Diego Costa. The problem with Mendes is that he negotiates mega deals (not likely viewed as a problem on his side). In all seriousness, when was the last time we completed a mega deal? Next time you see a player linked with Arsenal, look up who his agent is and what other clients are in his portfolio: you might quickly realize that a deal is extremely unlikely.
So have we learned anything? Probably not. But at least we’ve had a bit of fun explaining some of the nuances of Arsenal in the window. Here’s hoping some defensive cover is incoming.
You know it!
The Other Geoff
Other Geoff is the ‘#ABW Chief Blogger’ and can be found on Twitter here: @Hollefreund.