Ah! Hot air balloons, things of beauty!
The hot air balloon is the oldest successful flight technology available to man, and it’s one that allows us to fly high above the skies, giving one a sense of elevation that one does not get when one’s feet are on the ground.
If you’re a football fan, every summer you get bombarded with plenty of these hot air balloons. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the annual round of summer transfer gossip!
Taking an imaginary flight in the realms of the footballing stratosphere with leading players and their agents making a beeline for the next big money move, and the fans’ wildest fantasies being plucked out of their imagination and used as cannon fodder in the endless stream of transfer-related tattle that floods our internet space and takes much of our waking time – that is the transfer gossip machine at its best, where most of the information that comes along is gibberish.
There’s a reason why the news from the gossip mill is called transfer dope; it is aimed to have precisely that effect – to get the fans hooked on to it, eager and waiting for the next shot of news and then the next and one more thereafter, until such a stage when the fan can no longer live without a shot of transfer news.
With only a handful of teams competing for top honours each season, the transfer window represents the clubs’ chance of making key transfer signings and getting the fans fired up.
Edinson Cavani, formerly of Napoli and now with French champions Paris Saint Germain, was one of the big fishes in this year’s summer transfer market.
Chelsea and Real Madrid made the early running on the Uruguayan, but sometime in the middle of all the speculation emerged a report, straight out of the blue, which claimed that Manchester United were in the race to sign the forward; this came out when just the previous evening another paper had reported that Chelsea were on the verge of completing the signing of Cavani.
Manchester United fans, over the last three years or so, have been assured that their team has been close to sealing the transfer of ___________ (fill in the blank with one of Wesley Sneijder, Kevin Strootman, Lucas Moura or Thiago Alcantara), only to still be stuck with the likes of Tom Cleverley and Anderson in midfield and being forced to recall a veteran out of retirement a couple of seasons ago.
Reportedly, Thiago lost about 400,000 followers on Twitter the day he signalled his intention to re-unite with former coach Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, while Cesc Fabregas found 800,000 new followers when he woke up to the news that Man United had made a bid for him. The desperation in those fans for a world class midfielder is palpable; David Moyes and Ed Woodward are you listening?
And, if you are someone who’s been paying close attention to the transfer window, you would just be astounded at the amount of information in the hands of janitors, nurses, doctors and airport attendants who seemingly tip off reporters that they’ve just seen Cristiano Ronaldo arrive at Manchester airport via a private jet, Wayne Rooney with Jose Mourinho in a cafe, Eden Hazard doing the rounds of London and visiting a public toilet while at it.
The common joke going around a few weeks ago was that according to latest reports, Strootman has undergone so many medical tests at United, that he’s now a qualified doctor!
Meanwhile in North London, ‘Le Professeur’ Arsene Wenger has been the talk of the town for the “war chest” that he has been handed by the Arsenal board to fill the squad with some quality players. No day is complete without at least two reports on how Arsenal have come close to signing Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid (who, if today morning’s dope is to be believed, is on the way to Napoli; hard luck Arsenal fans) while also courting Luis Suarez of Liverpool with Champions League football.
The main actors in this drama are always the players, figuratively and literally. The range of emotions that they go through outshines that of most soap opera and movie stars. Rooney has been left “angry and confused” after manager Moyes’s comments, while last year, Cristiano Ronaldo was “sad” at Madrid. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who moved from AC Milan to PSG in the summer of 2012 on a salary of £11 million-a-year, claimed to “miss his freebies” from Italy.
That is the crazy, mad world of the football transfer window; propelled by fantasy football, dearth of stories in other spheres, hero worship and ‘insider’ info; filled with lots of hot air and very little substance.
So if you can keep your head above water for the most part, and enjoy the rumour mill while making judicious use of the information that comes hurtling down, you should be in a good place. Just make sure not to get too high on the transfer dope though!