A brief glance through this morning’s latest round of transfer rumors finds a ridiculous story that is just plausible enough to believe. Multiple outlets (in different languages, nonetheless) are reporting that deep-pocketed Ligue 1 newcomers AS Monaco are preparing a roughly $40 million bid for Paris Saint-Germain striker/Internet cult figure Zlatan Ibrahimovic. This after Monaco has already spent around $78 million this summer to sign Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid, and millions more to bring over both James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho from FC Porto and Ricardo Carvalho from Real Madrid. So, even though the Falcao deal would seem to logically rule out any move for Ibrahimovic, this is Monaco we’re talking about and anything is possible.
Except that the rumored deal, as far as we can tell, is complete hogwash – a clever hoax perpetrated by fans on the Internet in an effort to turn the transfer season’s absurd merry-go-round of blind conjecture and speculation against itself.
It all started with a post made on Reddit’s soccer forum on Sunday, which bemoaned the “amount of drivel… in the transfer gossip sections” and proposed “a joke to test how easy it is to get a transfer rumour going,” as well as to find out whether news outlets use the forum as a “source” for their stories. The joke, one that Reddit has pulled before, would entail simply making up a transfer rumor – one “slightly ridiculous to make the point but not so unbelievable that everyone will dismiss it, i.e. Cavani to Kilmarnock” – to see how far the story went, in the hope of trolling a rumor-mongering media that makes its living off pedaling falsities in the sports pages.
The “slightly ridiculous” rumor in question ended up involving Ibrahimovic making a big-money move to Monaco, with the post later edited to state that “[Reddit user] larry_b has agreed to put the Ibra story on Reddit at around 1pm GMT.” As such, it was no surprise that this post appeared on the forum Monday morning, made by none other than larry_b himself and citing the local Monaco newspaper Riviera-Cote d’Azul Zeitung as its source. “I bought the newspaper this morning and thought I’d post it here,” larry_b wrote. “It’s not on their website yet, but they’re usually pretty slow.”
A quick search through the Riviera-Cote d’Azul Zeitung website (it does exist) finds no trace of any such story hours after our friend larry_b’s supposed purchase of the print edition. Still, that didn’t stop Betfair from tweeting out the rumor to its 35,000-plus followers and BetVictor from dropping the price on an Ibrahimovic move to Monaco to 5/2. On the financial side of things, as we are wont to examine, it’s worth pondering how many poor souls have already thrown away money on such a bet. Twitter was also blowing up all morning over the move, and it’s only safe to presume that more media coverage surrounding the rumor will follow – it would not be the least bit surprising if the story made the British tabloids tomorrow.
In any case, no, there is no real indication whatever that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be leaving Paris Saint-Germain for Monaco. Any talk you hear about such a move is the result of a clever troll job by the folks over at Reddit, who singlehandedly subverted the entire Internet transfer rumor mill and are currently showing everyone how fickle they are as we speak.
Also, it didn’t hurt that they picked both a player (Ibra) and club (Monaco) about which you’d readily believe anything anyone told you. Well played.