Early Doors

Lies, damned lies and transfer rumours

Early Doors

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As this summer's transfer window approaches its frantic denouement, things really stepped up a gear on Wednesday.

Moussa Dembele sealed his move from Fulham to Tottenham while Javi Martinez completed his switch from Athletic Bilbao to Bayern Munich despite the Basque club claiming he had left to undergo his medical without their permission.

But perhaps the transfer news which caused the biggest stir on Wednesday, in certain spheres at least, came on Twitter. The person behind the 'FootballAgent49' account, which had accrued some 40,000 followers during the transfer window, exposed it as a fake. Rather than being an influential football agent who was privy to all the juiciest exclusives, it was, in fact, the account of an 18-year-old with time on their hands and some attention to seek.

'Bored person fools idiots on internet' may not be the most earth-shattering headline of all time, but nonetheless it served to embarrass a few people who should really have known better.

It was the biggest fuss made over a media spoof since Sky had to clearly signpost that their detective show A Touch Of Cloth was a parody in trailers because many viewers just didn't get it.

"I started out when I was bored one evening and I never once thought that I could get 43k followers," FootballAgent49 said in their farewell post. "I feel my twitter experience has been very successful with some of my 'Stories' even trending 5th in the world. I'm proud to say that I haven't had even one transfer scoop in my time yet people still say im more reliable than Sky Sports News and the BBC. Laughable.

"The Daily Mail even wrote an article based on my Kaka tweets and the 2 journalists who wrote it were following me."

Another account, EPLAgent007, had come clean on Monday, only using much more colourful language in their own statement.

Both account-holders used their closing statements to expose everyone who claims to be 'ITK' (in the know) on Twitter, forums and messageboards as frauds, something which seems obvious to most people. Claiming to be ITK is rather like someone telling you "I'm mad, me". If you are going out of your way to tell people you are, then you almost certainly are not.

Despite the obvious flaw in the whole conceit that anyone whose livelihood depends on handling sensitive information is not going to simply distribute it for free to whomever is interested, thousands of people have bought into the whole concept.

And why wouldn't they? Is it any different to following some of the reheated rumours and regurgitated gossip that fills the sports pages of some newspapers during transfer windows?

ED knows of at least one instance of a reporter being told to create a link between a player and a club in order to fill space as deadline approached.

When a deal comes off the back pages will scream with the claims that they were the ones to bring you the news first, even though the very enthusiasm of those claims exposes just how often they don't get it right.

Real agents are guilty of propagating such rumours, too. Both Victor Moses and James McCarthy were reportedly wanted by Real Madrid and Barcelona a couple of years ago. Both ended up playing for Wigan.

This is not to say that the vast majority of transfer stories do not have some basis to them. Reporters can glean genuine information from any number of sources and relay it in good faith only for nothing to come of it.

With the calendar and ticking clock now forcing clubs into decisive action in the transfer market, fans everywhere are desperate for any nuggets of information or rumour about the players their club is going to sign.

Rumours linking X to Y in a £Zm swoop are churned out and gobbled up on a daily basis, with all parties seemingly aware of what is going on but all happy to be complicit in any case. That is where much of the appeal of the transfer window lies, that supporters everywhere can be allowed to daydream. It certainly beats the reality of an actual transfer, like that of Luka Modric to Real Madrid, chugging along all summer.

As long as people are willing to buy into it, then the rumour mill will stay open for business. Perhaps that is no bad thing.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I wanted to apologise about what happened, especially for the club and the supporters of Southampton. We players are very exposed and we have to be more careful in this kind of situation, controlling every step when we enter public life." — Southampton forward Guly do Prado apologises  - seemingly for getting caught - after he was arrested for drink-driving after his Porsche was seen "being driven erratically along Southampton High Street in the early hours of Monday".

FOREIGN VIEW: "He has to be part of the project, respect the team rules and work in the greater interest of the team. He must comply with these standards. His career indicates that he knows that already. And a player of character is often necessary." — Marseille coach Elie Baup says Joey Barton will get one last chance at the French club, but this time he really, really, really has to behave himself.

COMING UP: Tactical Brain will be here with another video analysis of a Premier League team, while later on we'll bring you a video guide for this weekend's best and worst fantasy football picks and Jan Molby will be filing his latest column.

Later this evening we will have live coverage of the draw for the Champions League group stage (16:30) and then the second legs of two Europa League play-offs - Newcastle United v Atromitos Athens (20:00) and Liverpool v Hearts (20:05).

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