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Toon Winger Linked To Liverpool: I Expected Better From You, Guardian

Because we haven't had a rumor mongered about a player leaving the club, we have this bit of schlock.

Chris Brunskill

When navigating the transfer window rumor-minefield, there are tests through which you should put all rumors. First, you must always consider the source. You're much more apt to believe a rumor "reported" by the Chronicle or the Guardian than a rumor "reported" by the Sun or the Mail for instance. Second and most important in separating wheat from chaff is looking for primary source attribution - which is a fancy way to say "quotes". Presence of words actually spoken by a party involved don't always indicate verity of a story necessarily (see Kebe, Jimmy), but the complete lack of words actually spoken by a party involved generally indicates that there's low likelihood that there's even smoke, let alone fire in a situation.

As a supporter of Newcastle United, you get used to media outlets insisting a player wants away from Tyneside. By most accounts it's a shitty place that players only come to in order to facilitate a move to any other club as soon as possible. As such, it was not entirely surprising to see a "report" linking a Newcastle United star to a move away from the club. It may have been disappointing to see it at this particular time - we're still some 3 + months away from the re-opening of the transfer window... and also maybe a bit disappointing the source of this "report". The Guardian has put out a completely un-sourced speculative "Why would he ever want to stay" story about Hatem Ben Arfa, presumably based on Ben Arfa's January quote saying he would love to play for PSG someday:

"Much has been made of the PSG link, it is a club that I've supported since I was a child. One day I would love to play for them. But if Newcastle are really ambitious, then I'll stay," Ben Arfa told French channel TF1.

quote retrieved from

Hatem Ben Arfa was born in Clamart, a commune that lies 5 miles (give or take) from the center of Paris. He supported PSG as a child. It is not a surprise at all (and hasn't been a surprise) that he would be interested in representing the club eventually.

Using this unrelated idea to fabricate a link in any manner is at best irresponsible, and it's extremely disappointing that the Guardian has run this idea. Andy Hunter apparently was sat there with a deadline and had nothing, so he says to himself "Hey, Newcastle United want Andy Carroll... what kind of rumor can I report as fact but add the word "considering" to hedge my bets to make this idea work?" As mentioned before, the lack of attributable quote speaks volumes about this "rumor", but this move makes about as much sense as my (admittedly joke) proposal that would see West Ham transfer James Tomkins to us in exchange for Danny Simpson - and throw in Andy Carroll as a make-weight.

Newcastle United are interested in Andy Carroll, for better or worse. They also are big fans of Hatem Ben Arfa. Under contract until 2015, it is unlikely that the Newcastle brass would let the player go on the cheap, so you would be justified in figuring that his valuation would be in the teens of millions pounds at the least (definitely more than they value Andy Carroll at if they were to bring him in). Proposing Hatem Ben Arfa to go the opposite direction in an Andy Carroll transfer then logically presumes Carroll at a value at the very least in the teens of millions of pounds... and that is if you value HBA and AC at identical levels. The way Liverpool have handled Andy Carroll has essentially wrecked any big-time value that the lad from Gateshead may still have had at this point in time. Not being willing to pay over the odds for any player under the Ashley regime, it seems unlikely that Newcastle will get anywhere close to paying what Liverpool will want for the player in the first place - let alone throw in a player of Hatem Ben Arfa's quality into the deal. The value proposition in this "rumor" is laughably out of whack... but I guess Hunter got me to click and subsequently offer you these 700 words, so who looks silly now?