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Rumor mill gets into ridiculous, ludicrous mess over Willian and Barcelona

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Each story tops the previous one

Brazil v Mexico: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Whoever said that lawyers are sharks never met a writer who specializes in transfer rumors.

Somehow, Friday’s news about a fresh Barcelona bid for Willian became blood in the water for this pack of predators. A feeding frenzy erupted on Saturday and Sunday with each claim trying to top the previous one.

The best way to summarize this escalating madness is to go through it chronologically. Keep an eye on the currency being used, though, as all the switching between pounds and euros gets confusing.

It all began innocently enough on Friday, with multiple outlets reporting that Barcelona had made a third bid for Willian, a modest increase from roughly £50m-£53m up to £55m (sterling) Typical negotiation move, small increments. Nothing spectacular. And no hint of what was to happen next.

On Saturday, The Sun decided it need to top that report. It claimed that Barcelona had abruptly raised their bid to £65m with add-ons extra (we’re still in pounds sterling here). No reason given, no source cited. Just because, apparently.

Well, the Daily Mail couldn’t have that. Being topped by The Sun’s (probably) fictitious report? Not having it, mate. So on Sunday they decided to advance the story. In their version, Chelsea are now meeting to discuss this mysterious new bid.

Now alarm bells are going off in Spain. How can these English publications be “scooping” them on a story in their own backyard? AS — a Spanish publication located in Madrid and therefore not the finest source for stories about Barcelona — decided to round down The Sun’s number and fire out its own report. Note that we have now switched to euros, £65m is very close to their €72m number.

Hmmm, we seem to be missing a shark in this feeding frenzy. Hello, Barcelona media? Anyone awake? It’s your club they’re talking about. Surely you know about this amazing bid and lighting-quick acceptance by Chelsea. Right?

Ah, but our canny Catalonians decide that a head-on attack is fruitless. Rather than trying to climb atop this rising pile of claims, SPORT launch a flanking attack. Suddenly, Chelsea are trying to hold onto Willian, not sell him.

Oh goody, how much are Chelsea offering to pay him, SPORT?

-crickets-

Yeah, no details of the offer. Frankly, the thing looks like it was dashed off in a hurry. In SPORT’s world, Roman Abramovich is miffed about his visa issues in the UK and is trying to raise money by selling off his stars, Hazard and Courtois are already out the door and Sarri is bravely trying to stop it all. The drama!

Twitter, naturally, swallowed this nonsense whole and repeated one story or the other endlessly, by turns happy, sad or resigned about it.

And that was your Willian weekend, down in the rabbit hole that is Silly Season, now with an extra bit of ridiculousness.