With the continued rise in transfer fees to stratospheric levels, one would think that newspapers hardly have to obscure the money involved. And yet, with players switching clubs for upwards of £100million, they seem to think they must.
Back in June of last year, it was Neil Custis of The Sun who reported that ‘Manchester United’s pursuit of Alvaro Morata could cost them a staggering £180million.’
One month later, David Anderson and David McDonnell teamed up in the Daily Mirror to claim that the already huge £50m Manchester City spent on Kyle Walker was actually a false fee. ‘The real cost of signing Walker,’ they claimed, was £100m.
And so to Alexis Sanchez, for whom a reported £25m January move does not include nearly enough numbers. Which is presumably why McDonnell is back in the Mirror, this time with Simon Mullock by his side, to report on Manchester United’s ‘£124m hijack’.
— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) January 11, 2018
‘Manchester United are trying to gazump Manchester City’s bid to sign Alexis Sanchez,’ the article begins. Time to get out those calculators, folks.
‘Jose Mourinho has entered the bidding, after learning that City are refusing to meet both Arsenal’s £35million asking price…’
So that’s £35m.
‘…and the striker’s demand for a three-and-a-half-year contract worth £400,000-a-week.’
A ‘three-and-a-half-year’ contract equates to 182 weeks. £400,000 a week over 182 weeks equals £72.8m. So some of the ropiest maths possible leaves us at £107.8m so far.
‘Sanchez also wants a £15million signing-on fee.’
£107.8m plus £15m equals £122.8m. Which is:
a) a really terrible and transparent way of trying to say this will cost a lot of money
; and b) not £124m, which is what your back page claims. Who taught you that you round 122.8 up to 124?
Also, if United do somehow sign Sanchez, will you report it as a club-record fee? £124m is more than the £89m they paid for Pogba, who presumably receives no wages, after all.
‘The Premier League leaders have baulked at a deal that will cost them £124m this month for a 29-year-old.’
Unless Manchester City are about to pay three-and-a-half years of wages up front to Sanchez, it absolutely would not ‘cost them £124m this month’. That just isn’t how transfers work.
Mediawatch is just left wondering why the article was nowhere to be seen on the Mirror’s football homepage as early as 10am.
Read more from Planet Sport: Is Dimitrov the danger man Down Under? (Tennis365)
My neck, my back
Martin Samuel is here to brighten up a quiet Friday in the only way he can.
‘As a result of making a complaint of racism against Roberto Firmino, Mason Holgate may be punished for posting homophobic tweets, while still at school,’ he writes in his Daily Mail column.
‘What a mess this has become. Why would any black man ever come forward again, if this is the way the process pans out?’
This is indeed the same Martin Samuel whose first reaction to Mason Holgate reporting an incident of alleged racism was to claim that his push on Firmino was ‘no lesser crime’.
By the final paragraph, Samuel writes that Holgate’s ‘violent push’ could have ‘broken Firmino’s back’. Which, considering his article on Tuesday was headlined ‘Would the FA act on violence if Firmino had a broken neck?’, is an impressive promotion.
Enough about the Mail. What’s the big news in the world of MailOnline?
Balotelli posts funny video undergoing physiotherapy very near his bum https://t.co/ad9vR8gm4A
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) January 11, 2018
Well alright then.
Singing the Blues
Paul Merson is here with his Sky Sports predictions.
On Chelsea v Leicester, he says: ‘Before I watched the Carabao Cup semi-final with Arsenal I would have said Chelsea would win this 3-0, but I’m not so sure now. They struggled in what was a poor game.’
Merse was so unimpressed that he downgrades his initial 3-0 win to a… 2-0 win. Ouch.
Merson’s obsessions with Revels is well-documented, but Mediawatch is delighted at the return of one of his old catchphrases.
“Watford are on a glass mountain with moccasin slippers” – January 12 2018.
“It’s so important [Watford] beat Leicester, because I think they could have ended up as one of those teams on a glass mountain with moccasin slippers on” – January 1 2018
“Burnley need to win, they’re on the old glass mountain with moccasin slippers on” – April 4 2017.
“There’s always a team that slides down the league like they’re on a glass mountain with moccasin slippers on and can’t stop. [Leicester] are the ones for me” – February 21 2017
“There’s always one team who end up on the glass mountain with moccasin slippers on, and it could be Swansea” – February 27 2016.
“Swansea are on a glass mountain with slippers on and they can’t stop sliding” – January 14 2016.
“There’s always one team who end up on a glass mountain with a pair of slippers on and this year it’s Newcastle” – May 8 2015.
“Near the end of the season you always get one team that comes flying down the league on a glass mountain with a pair of slippers on and Newcastle are that team at the moment” – April 23 2015.
‘Eden Hazard confirms he WILL sign new Chelsea deal – and reveals Thibaut Courtois is also on verge of extension’ – Daily Mirror.
‘Chelsea star Eden Hazard confirms he WILL sign a new Blues deal…and team-mate Thibaut Courtois is ready to sign a new £200,000-a-week contract’ – Daily Mail.
‘Eden Hazard confirms he will sign new Chelsea contract and confirms Thibaut Courtois will also agree new deal’ – The Independent.
‘Eden Hazard says he WILL sign new Chelsea contract – on one condition’ – Daily Express.
‘Eden Hazard confirms he will sign new Chelsea contract amid Real Madrid transfer links’ – Metro.
‘Eden Hazard says he will ‘never’ leave Chelsea; plans to sign new deal’ – ESPN FC.
Each story is based on Hazard talking to fans at an NBA game in London on Thursday. Each story takes Hazard’s ‘quotes’ at face value.
Which is terrible news for Manchester United, as this Independent headline from August 2016 proves…
‘Paul Pogba: Manchester United target tells Juventus fans he is staying with Serie A club’
It’s almost as if footballers don’t expect their every single word to become breaking news.
Sky’s brilliant Gary Cotterill asks: “if you were a player would you rather play for Jose or Pep?”
— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) January 12, 2018
The standard for press conference questions might have reached an all-time low.
Spot the difference
‘FOOTIE legend Ryan Giggs became close to Kate Greville as his marriage to wife of ten years Stacey was breaking down’ – The Sun. January 12 2018
‘Life and times of Three Lions footie idiot Raheem’ – The Sun, June 30 2016.
Just wait til Ryan Giggs buys his mum a house.
‘In light of her central role in the sexism saga that led to Richard Keys and Andy Gray leaving Sky Sports in 2011, it was unfortunate that the team sheet for the Huddersfield v Burnley game listed the assistant referee as Mr Sian Massey’ – Charles Sale, Daily Mail.
Save the day
Justin Allen has interview West Ham goalkeeper Adrian in The Sun. ‘What was your best save as a Hammer?’ Allen asks.
“I remember every one of my saves. But I do remember fondly the 0-0 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2014 – my busiest game. They must had 25 to 30 shots on target!”
Recommended reading of the day
Alistair Tweedale on the Premier League’s misfiring strikers.
Richard Fitzpatrick on Philippe Coutinho.