As we enter the final 10 days of the summer transfer window (for Premier League clubs), the rumors will only get more silly, more sensational, more nonsensical. What may be real will become even harder to distinguish from what may be fake, speculative, or self-serving.
Take the case of Willian, who’s said to be on his way out of Chelsea. Manchester United and old boss Jose Mourinho had been repeatedly linked over the years, but Willian had rejected them in two consecutive summers. But last season he was not too happy under Conte and with him about to turn 30, and despite a new coach in place, it would make sense for Chelsea to cash in and get younger at the position.
And so the Manchester United links returned, but it was Barcelona who jumped to the front. Three bids were submitted, according to reports, but Chelsea either overplayed their hand or didn’t actually want to sell, as Barcelona were rebuffed all three times. So Barca had enough, switched gears, and gazumped AS Roma for Malcom instead. While the Mail claims that Barca’s Malcom move was initially intended just to get Chelsea to accept their Willian bid, with the Blues delaying, the Blaugrana ended up pushing forward with the replacement deal.
That sounds a bit far-fetched, but not nearly as much as now the Mail claiming that Real Madrid have come calling for Willian (£65-70m) and are looking to make a package deal worth £100m with Thibaut Courtois (£35m). The Mail cite unnamed sources in Spain, which sounds suspiciously like Don Balon and their ilk. Meanwhile, the slightly more reputable Tuttosport in Italy claimed that Manchester United’s €75m bid was accepted by Chelsea this weekend.
All of that was made more legitimate by the Evening Standard reporting on it, and adding the claim that if Chelsea do sell Willian, the replacement will be Christian Pulisic, who may or may not be available starting at around €70m.
10 days to go.