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Chelsea FC Transfer Rumours: Javier Pastore And A Phantom Bid

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PARMA, ITALY - MAY 01:  Javier Pastore of Palermo shows his dejection during the Serie A match between Parma FC and US Citta di Palermo at Stadio Ennio Tardini on May 1, 2011 in Parma, Italy.  (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)
PARMA, ITALY - MAY 01: Javier Pastore of Palermo shows his dejection during the Serie A match between Parma FC and US Citta di Palermo at Stadio Ennio Tardini on May 1, 2011 in Parma, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)
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With the news that Palermo have received (but for some reason, not accepted) a 50M bid for Argentinian midfielder Javier Pastore, people have started jumping to several conclusions. I'm not sure we should be so hasty about anything yet. Let's have a think about the situation first. Here are the facts, as I'm aware of them.

First of all, Chelsea have submitted several bids for Pastore, the last of which was reportedly significantly lower than €50M. Second, Palermo Maurizio Zamparini has announced that a 'foreign club' has made a €50M bid, but has declined to name the club, nor has he accepted said bid. Thirdly, there aren't really many non-Chelsea candidates for Pastore's signature.

Add all of that up and you can get 'Chelsea have submitted a huge bid for Javier Pastore'. But you can also interpret things differently, and - in my opinion - more realistically. The most important thing to remember here is that Zamparini (just like everyone else in football) is more than capable of lying to the media when it suits him.

Since Chelsea are widely believed to be Pastore's only serious suitor, Palermo are going to have huge trouble in creating a bidding war around him. There's literally no reason for Chelsea to scramble to meet Pastore's price now, because they don't have to worry about someone swooping in to take him. I could see the Blues eventually making a huge bid for him towards the end of the month, but, again, there's no motivation for them to do so right now.

Zamparini's quote is deliberately ambiguous and non-falsifiable, and that should be setting off alarm bells. Unless someone goes around and asks every 'foreign club' whether or not they've bid for Pastore at €50M, you can't really catch him in the act of a (hypothetical) lie. Say 'Chelsea have bid...' when they haven't, and it'd be easy to prove he wasn't telling the truth. The fact that Zamparini has only mentioned receiving a bid rather than accepting it implies strongly that the bid isn't there at all. Why wouldn't it be accepted, if the club has matched Palermo's valuation. Perhaps, says the cynic in me, it's because it doesn't exist.

The motive behind lying about this, as far as Zamparini is concerned, would be to introduce a stressor into the negotiations with Chelsea. If the Blues have submitted a bid significantly lower than €50M but high enough to take seriously (in the €35-40M range, for example), and Palermo are aware that they'll have to sell at some point, the only leverage they could possibly have is if another party joins the bidding. If they play it right, they could draw Chelsea into an entirely imaginary bidding war and get extract as much money as possible for Pastore rather than letting him go for less.

I'm not saying Zamparini is lying here, but I am saying that there's a good reason for him to be, and that's enough to take this news with several grains of salt. Chelsea don't have a compelling motivation to have made the bid as reported, and Palermo have significant motivation to invent one. While I'd like to see Pastore come to Stamford Bridge as much as the next guy (and think that he'll start the season in SW6), I think that this is a negotiation trick and not evidence that he's immediately incoming. It could be true, of course, but most signs point to no.