Fake news? Not necessarily: a brief guide to reading and assessing transfer rumours
It's hard to find a football fan who would be indifferent to transfer reports. Some love to read them and speculate on potential signings and departures, some hate them, because they are often controversial and confusing.
One of the most popular reactions from those who hate rumours is 'fake news'. Yes, some people just love to post it in the comments under literally every bit of news referring to transfers.
Liverpool are linked with Jadon Sancho? "Fake news!".
Timo Werner could stay put at Leipzig for the next season? "Admin, stop giving us fake news!"
A promising teenage starlet is reportedly on Liverpool's monitor? "I'm about to delete this app cause it's full of fake news..."
Sounds so familiar, doesn't it?
It's plain clear why some fans think so, by the way:
- Controversy: the same source can tell you a player wants to join us today and deny it tomorrow;
- Anonymity: a lot of reports quote unnamed 'sources at the club' or 'sources close to the player' and fans can't be sure reporters don't make that stuff up;
- Low efficiency: a lot of claims, reports and rumours end in nothing and players linked with our club stay put or move elsewhere.
But let me tell you one thing.
I've browsed some of our old articles recently and found 'fake news' comments under the first post saying Liverpool were interested in Takumi Minamino.
Then I dug a bit deeper and browsed through comments under articles speaking about Liverpool's interest in Alisson. Guess what, the comments were just flooded with 'don't give us this', 'fed up with Alisson b******t'. Man, some guys were even saying Karius was way better than Alisson but that's another story.
And then I got to news from 2017 when Naby Keita emerged as our transfer target and found numerous comments saying we and the media we quoted were lying as 'Keita will join Man Utd instead'.
Don't get me wrong, everybody is entitled to their own opinions but I just want to explain why branding a rumour 'fake news' is not always right:
- First of all, each rumour has a source and even not the most reliable sources sometimes tell things which eventually turn true;
- You just can't say if a rumour is true or not until the transfer window is shut;
- And even if a move doesn't materialise in this particular transfer window, it can still happen in six months or a year;
- Transfer deals aren't done quickly, especially with young players: it can take years for them to be sealed.
Obviously, it doesn't mean fake news and made-up reports don't exist at all but there are certain criteria that could help you define an ordinary rumour from a fake one.
Look at the source of information and see if it is related to the player or any of the clubs mentioned. For example, if a Spanish outlet reports about a German player 'willing to leave the Bundesliga and join a Ligue 1 side', it could be not that credible. But if it's a French or a German outlet, like France Football or Bild, it can be true.
Pay attention to details. In fake reports, they often deny the laws of pure logic and common sense. I remember reading a report in Don Balon saying Salah wanted to join Barcelona. They literally claimed Mo told it to Messi at half-time in the tunnel at the Camp Nou during the UCL semi-final tie. My only question was 'How come do you know it if it was just a private tunnel talk?'
Separate rumours from other types of transfer news. When pundit A says player B needs to join club Z, it's not a rumour at all, it's just an opinion. It's your call to agree or disagree with it but it just can't be fake news by definition.
Hope that helps, Reds.