When it comes to the transfer window, there’s often a fine line between fact and fiction. How many of the rumours that you repeatedly read about each day go on to be completed transfers come the end of the window? Did a club ever show any genuine interest in the individual? Or does a player actually want to leave for pastures new or is their ‘unease’ simply aimed at gaining a new contract? In my best attempts to keep it topical, it is the divide between working out what is or isn’t ‘fake news’ in such a post-truth world that in many ways has helped the transfer window become the phenomenon that it is today. For modern-day football supporters, all it can take is the slightest rumour or even the mention of an individual’s name that can lead fans from hoping to expecting that their team will add to their squad during the transfer window.
Yet when what initially looks like ‘fact’ eventually proves to be fiction, it is then when hope and expectations transform into disappointment and fans are quickly brought back to earth with a reminder that more often than not, there can be very little truth when it comes to the transfer rumours you read on a daily basis. For the older football fan, watching a move fail to materialise from anything more than a few words on a page is nothing new. Yet for younger supporters easily taken in by deadline day drama and player pandemonium, approaching transfer rumours with some degree of caution is absolutely imperative. As believe it or not, not every club is looking or even capable of signing players each window and not every player you see rumoured actually craves a move away. Therefore whilst the annual transfer window inevitably plays with everybody’s emotions in one way or another, dissecting the verified information and only believing in a rumour when developments are reported through official sources is commonplace for modern-day club supporters.
With every transfer window however comes a barrage of bizarre rumours that often stay as nothing more than just speculation. Window by window, you can always guarantee on at least one outlandish rumour that does the rounds. For this reason @ASelbyInfo takes a look at the five weirdest transfer rumours reported this January – if you think you’ve found one that is even stranger, make sure to comment below or tweet @ASelbyInfo directly with your suggestions!
Jefferson Farfan to Sheffield Wednesday
As Sheffield Wednesday battle for promotion from the Sky Bet Championship, you would think that adding to their squad during the January window would have been something that manager Carlos Carvalhal and club owner Dejphon Chansiri had been seriously considering. It certainly looked like that would be the case after former Charlton Athletic left-back Morgan Fox joined the club less than a week into the transfer window being open, whislt the signing of the in-form Sam Winnall from Barnsley not only ilustrated the club’s ambition but true willingness too, to spend big in the January transfer window. Therefore with their eye very much on their prize, in the silly season of the transfer window where anything is possible, rumours soon surfaced linking Canadian international Jefferson Farfan with a move to the Yorkshire club. Farfan, a free agent at the time before completing a move to Lokomotiv Moskva more recently, had reportedly been the subject of some interest from Sheffield Wednesday with the club reportedly willing to offer the former FC Schalke 04 winger the opportunity to play in England for the first time in his career. Yet paper talk merely remained as paper talk with Farfan opting for the Russian Premier League rather than a chance at steering Carvahal’s side to the English equivalent.
Dimitar Berbatov to Newcastle United
As no stranger to both English football and being the subject of a deadline day duel between clubs vying for his signature, Dimitar Berbatov remains a free agent after leaving Greek side PAOK in summer 2016 and has stated publicly that he would love to make a return to the English Premier League. After playing out most his early career in between his native Bulgaria and Germany, the Premier League soon beckoned for the Bulgarian international with a move to Tottenham Hotpsur in 2006 soon followed by a lucrative deal to join Manchester United whilst Berbatov was at the peak of his powers. Four years at United followed where Berbatov proved influential in both playing but more so reliably performing at the highest level, winning the Premier League,and Community Shield on two ocassions during his time at the club as well as the League Cup back in the 2009/10 season. Far from his best and with time against him at the age of 36, part of you does still think that he could do a job at a top-flight club or one with some degree of competition at least. That being said Newcastle United amongst a host of English clubs were soon rumoured to be interested in signing the Bulgarian this January. Yet after a move failed to materialise in January itself, don’t be surprised to see the former Fulham forwards name appear a little more through February with unattached players still able to move away after the window shuts.
Garath McCleary to Valencia
Valencia may not have enjoyed the best times of late after an incredibly tumultous 18 months but as unpredictable as their faltering form has been for some time now, nobody could ever have thought that Sky Bet Championship winger Garath McCleary and the Spanish club would ever have been put in the same sentence, could they? After an impressive season by recent standards for Reading under new manager Jaap Stam, Garath McCleary has long been a footballer that has stood out. At the worst of times fans can be found pleading with the Jamaican midfielder to reproduce his best form as this because during the best of times, the speed and agility of McCleary is arguably that of Premier League standard with potential that you feel certainly hasn’t been reached. That being said as pockets of speculation linking the Reading man with a possible move to La Liga after a struggling Valencia had reportedly shown interest in acquiring his services, Valencia fans soon picked up on the rumours and merely dismissed them as paper talk – lambasting the validity of such a news story without taking it one bit seriously. Therefore McCleary stays at Reading, a club which he has made over 150 first-team appearances for and one that is clearly close to his heart. But in a career that has seen the Jamaican make his way up fron non-league level at Oxford City, Slough Town and Bromley, who knows whether McCleary will one day jump at the chance for pastures new?
Craig Gordon to Chelsea
Nowadays so many deals hinge on one thing or another, whether that be the length of a contract, personal terms, an agent fee or third-party ownership etc, but one area that perhaps stands out more than most are the number of clubs that have predetermined targets in mind in case something happens to one of their current players that they may be happy with. Consequently when Bournemouth came calling with a mega money move for backup goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, with the player perhaps keen to play more first-team football at a club that he has been at before, Chelsea soon turned their attention to former Sunderland and current Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon with the view to replace Begovic as Thibaut Courtois’ understudy. Although it at first looked like one of those crazy transfer rumours with little substance or credibility, once official news outlets reported that Chelsea’s was in fact genuine and that the Scottish international was very much in their sights as look to recruit this January, Craig Gordon looked set for an incredibly unexpected return to the Premier League. Celtic on the other hand, performing just like Chelsea with a similar dominance in the league, were however reluctant to sell Gordon this window whilst Chelsea were seemingly unprepared to offer any more than the £4/5m that they had offered initially. Yet whilst both goalkeepers stay at their respective clubs for the time being, watch this space – this could yet be one that continues to roll on during the Summer too.
Samuel Eto’o to Hull City
After a glittering career that saw Eto’o play for the likes of Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Internazionale and Chelsea at the peak of his playing career, as age has caught up with the highly decorated Cameroon international both his career and his influence at club level have arguably weakened in recent years. With three Champions League, four league titles and two African Cup of Nations trophies to his name, as well as a host of individual accolades that Eto’o has gained throughout his illustrious career, it took until 2013 for Eto’o to gain his first experience of English football after joining Chelsea before swapping the blue of Southwest London for the blue of Merseyside. Yet with the transfer mill looking for its next leading character, after two years away from the Premier League with Sampdoria and most recently Antalyaspor where Eto’o seems to have recaptured his goalscoring form with an impressive 28 goals in 47 games, as the January transfer window opened it looked like Eto’o would making Hull City his third English club in as many years. With The Tigers struggling for stability off the pitch after Mike Phelan parted ways with the club before the 2017 winter window opened, goals have also proved difficult for Marco Silva’s side this season and an in-form Eto’o not only offers experience that is perhaps needed for a relegation run-in but also the goals to steer the club to eventual safety. Rumours however merely proved to be nothing more than speculation as the club were quick to deny any interest Cameroon’s all-time leading goalscorer and directed their interest in their January recruitment.