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Neymar talks about a Premier League future, Chelsea, Manchester United rumors ensue

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And everyone loses their minds

Brazil Training Session - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifier Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Ah, the international break. Home to not much football, plenty of boredom, and even more Silly Season nonsense. You’ve got to fill the pages of newspaper and websites with something!

Beyond the usual Hazard and Courtois stories that we’ve surely gotten used to over the past few years, there’s been one big story that we haven’t touched on at all, mostly because I assumed that it would die out as quickly as it was invented. But in the international break, any story with even a tiny bit of drama lingers on like a wet fart. And this one certainly entices many an olfactory nerve.

About a week ago, one of Barcelona’s holy trinity, Neymar was participating in a sponsorship event (a charity poker tournament organized by PokerStars) and sat down for an interview with The Sun as part of his duties. At which point he was no doubt asked the usual leading questions, and decided to humor the interviewer (and, in turn, sending the rumor mill into a rather unfounded tizzy) by revealing that “someday” he might like to play in the Premier League, name-dropping the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United, among others, in the process.

“The Premier League is a championship that amazes me. I like the playing style and the teams. And who knows, someday, I would like to play at it, yes.”

“I admire Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool — these are the teams that are always there fighting. And then you have high-level coaches like Mourinho and Guardiola. These are coaches with whom any player would like to work.”

-Neymar; source: The Sun

It’s all pretty innocent, right? Not so, says the rumor mill! We can work with this, we’ve done it with far less! We have the technology!

Some have taken up this challenge with greater gusto than others, perhaps none more so than Italy’s Tuttosport, who have also been on the forefront of the Conte-to-Inter Milan nonsense.

Over the weekend, Tuttosport broke the sensational “news” that while Roman Abramovich had agreed a £155m deal with Barcelona for Neymar, none other than Antonio Conte put his foot down and said, nah, that’s not the player for me. Don’t get me one of the best players in the world, Uncle Roman, I’d rather we buy Giaccherini, said Conte before blowing a raspberry at the flabbergasted oligarch, mooning the bodyguards one by one, and flying off on a magic carpet provided by Inter Milan’s megarich new owners, Suning.

In a way, Conte rejecting the chance to buy Neymar — who may or may not have a €200m (£175m) buyout clause — is perhaps the most believable part of the story, with the head coach probably wanting the club to make multiple large purchases to improve the squad, rather than just one outrageous acquisition. How all this leads to Conte wanting to quit Chelsea (a story, which was predicated earlier on Conte wanting more control over transfers) is a question only Tuttosport editors could answers. My guess is their answer would be similar to Conte’s invented answer in the previous paragraph.

Tuttosport’s story has been picked up, recycled, then picked up again over the past few days by various outlets on both sides of the English Channel as the football media tried desperately to stave off the utter ennui of the international break. (Here’s a version that involves Manchester United, for example.) That doesn’t change the fact that Neymar didn’t say anything beyond long-term hypothetical, that Roman Abramovich does not negotiate deals for Chelsea, and that Neymar, most likely anyway, is going nowhere from Barcelona, especially as he’s by far the youngest member of their strikeforce.

Can we get back to football yet?