As a United fan, I am inundated with rumours seemingly connecting just about every player on the planet making news with a big money move to the club. As we now sit midway through November, the rumour mill really begins to ramp up as it can only be assumed, by now, managers are well aware of what they want and who ticks the boxes. Their scouts are racking up the mileage in the air from watching their potential captures prove their value or cool the interest. And if all is looking good, if not already, contact will soon begin with clubs and the player’s agents.
What is the rumour mill? Simply stated, it’s a genre of lazy journalism and exists as a formula which can be repeated with just about any of the so-called big spenders.
- Identify an area of alleged weakness on a money laden club (irrespective of the magnitude).
- Identify the aforementioned news maker who crafts their trade in that position… Or reasonably could play that position (irrespective of any circumstances which may complicate matters).
- Then fabricate or exaggerate motivation or reason for the ‘desired’ move. This is often the most entertaining bit of the lot as they get quite creative. A personal favourite is where it’s claimed a family member and/or friend says player X told them privately of their desire to move to club X.
- The last bit is simply creating an eye catching header, doubling in its efforts from the print media to the Internet as click bait. It usually is very misleading.
If it were any simpler, I’d imagine a room where the author(s) simply draw cards, roll dice, or spin a wheel to conjure up their latest scoop. What’s most confusing is people are actually paid to do it. And they’re paid because football mad fans, primarily your typical armchair managers, gobble up this stuff like a fat man at an all you can eat buffet.
They’re easily excitable, it seems.
It’s rather annoying too.
You see, for as much as I despise this sort of journalism, even I can’t help but read much of it. Not for the make believe which dominates the content; but rather, because every now and then, I’ll encounter rumours which make more sense and provoke thought. Rarer yet are the ones that are actually ITK and break a story of an imminent transfer. So I’m a bit of a hypocrite I suppose.
As for the good ones, one such rumour popped up today and soon gained considerable traction as the lazy journalists, consistent in their laziness rather than spinning the wheel themselves, simply reiterated the story. The rumour questioned if the time was ripe for Arjen Robben to make a move to Manchester United. My gut instinct was to dismiss it as a non-starter, but as I got to thinking about it, it wasn’t as crazy as you may assume.
First, why would this not make sense? As a habit when reading these, I tend to play devil’s advocate. In a nutshell, Arjen Robben remains one of the best right wingers in the world: Possessing pace few can match, flair with the ball, and a killer instinct when an opportunity to go for goal presents itself. As someone who supports the KNVB internationally because of my Dutch heritage (and the fact that Canada’s showing at the World Cup in 1986 is likely the only time that will happen in my lifespan), I’ve all but come too accustomed to his penchant to cut in from the right and deliver a low drive to the net off his left foot. Frequently with success. His form hasn’t been bad this term either, scoring five goals in ten appearances for Bayern thus far and even better for the Dutch national team where, most recently, a brace from Robben saw off Wales.
But despite this, I think this rumour has something to it. That despite his world-class talent, Bayern may see the wisdom in cashing in on their forward now.
Ignoring the alleged cause of the potential move in that he had a falling out with Lewandowski, Robben has entered a point in his career where, still in his prime, he’s at an age where his value exists on a slippery slope. Now 31 and no stranger to the injury bug, Robben presents himself as something much liken to Schweinsteiger. Still fully capable but in short supply of top-end seasons to come, Bayern may see United as a go to once more to run down another international standout.
Does it work for United?
Petty you may be to dislike the idea of United being Bayern’s retirement home, I don’t see it that way. If a player was incapable of performing due to age, that would be a different story. But it’s not. This absolutely benefits United! As has Schweinsteiger, Robben can still fly past defenders five to ten years his junior and score goals in bunches. And too like Schweinsteiger, Robben would be another veteran presence on the pitch and a mentor to United’s wealth of young forwards looking to make the next step in the first team’s starting XI. I speak of course of Lingard, Memphis, and Januzaj should he return. But most of all, he is the quality of pace, creativity, and finishing that United so do need on their right flank. With Valencia down and others out of their preferred position in that role, it essentially leaves Mata alone without another option. Robben is ideal for the role and good enough it may cast doubt into Mata’s role on the team.
Does it work for Robben?
This is truly hard to say. Speaking hypothetically, if he was so discontent with his place at Bayern and wanted a move, United would likely be one of very few clubs that could both afford him and provide the constant first team time he’d desire. Robben has lived in the UK and played in the Premier League before, proving very annoying to United fans years back when his efforts helped seal United’s fate and glory for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2005. He’d taste success once again the following year.
Probably the only other thing that could prove enticing would be the chance to work under van Gaal again. Having played for van Gaal both internationally and at Bayern prior, Robben is a huge admirer of United’s manager and credits him for making him a “complete player.” While he’d go on to say a move to United wouldn’t happen anytime soon in the same interview, much can change in a year and a half. And so goes the rumour…
Does it work for Bayern?
Quality in depth is always the first concern when selling a first team player, particularly one with world-class talent. In this instance, it’s hardly an issue. Bayern is one of a few clubs who hardly find it difficult to attract big names in football. Point is, as they cruise to yet another title domestically, they’ve been the only club to really challenge Madrid or Barcelona in Europe in recent times. Bayern may have already acquired their protege (and apparent heir?) in Kingsley Coman.
While Comon is on loan from Juve until June of 2017, the possibility to buy is there should he continue upward in his development. With two goals and six assists in his 13 appearances for club, Comon hasn’t exactly torn it up. That said, he hasn’t been bad by any metric either – especially when you look at the season Douglas Costa is having. If you didn’t know, Bayern love to attack on the left – it works. So with the sheer depth of attacking options Bayern have at their disposal should Robben leave (and either Comon doesn’t work out or can’t be acquired beyond the loan spell), it’s not as if Bayern will be taking a huge gamble. Seems like a Schweinsteiger-esque recipe for profit.
At the end of the day, no amount of justification can say for certain that the above circumstances will see this move happen. In fact, despite all I’ve said to sell this rumour as something a bit more than a FIFA/FM fantasy come true, the fact of the matter is it remains unlikely. So the story goes, it’s allegedly over a ‘falling out’ with a teammate. Pretty trivial and easy to repair. And for that, it’ll have to be a believe it when I see it scenario.