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Anatomy Of A Busted Transfer Rumor

There was a transfer rumor involving Napoli trying desperately to gain traction over the last few days. Trouble is, it's a terrible rumor.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

Yesterday I was perusing Twitter in a moment of boredom, as I'm wont to do at various times throughout the day. And by "boredom" I actually mean "should have been writing, but was stuck and needed to do something else for a few minutes." But I digress.

In that perusal, I came across the mother of all clickbait headlines, "Napoli About To Sign Suarez." Now obviously, that doesn't mean Luis Suarez, because Liverpool isn't selling him, and even if they were Napoli could never afford him. The headline is designed to make you go "wait, what?" and click it anyways, just in case it's some ridiculous and hilarious rumor about exactly that. In need of a laugh, I did open up the story in the end just to see what was behind the curtain.

The story is actually about Atletico Madrid midfielder Mario Suarez, a solid but unspectacular and generally uninteresting player. Why Napoli would be interested in him is unknown; he's certainly good enough in a general sense, but doesn't fit in to the side Rafa Benitez has put together very well.

That's not the interesting part about this, though.

The report, found here, cites a report from Spanish web tabloid Estrella Digital that Napoli were "just a step away" of signing Suarez. It's a report that's a bit of a step up of others that have been floating around the last few days, but were all of the same general tone: Napoli want to sign Suarez, and are close to getting a deal arranged. Interestingly, all of the reports I found cited that same, but always unlinked, report from Estrella Digital.

That made me curious, so I put on my sleuthing hat and got to work.

First, I tracked down Estrella Digital's website and started digging through their sports section to find the story about Suarez all these sites were referencing. Yesterday's reports? Nothing. Day before? Nothing. Week before? Nothing. All the way through to May 1st? Nothing at all on Mario Suarez, aside from one line in a story about the Champions League final, and nothing to do with transfer rumors.

That certainly seemed strange, but I wasn't going to give up there. These sites had to be referencing something, right? There had to be a root story, and I wanted to find it, dammit. A few minutes of brute force googling later, and I found a Mario Suarez story on Estrella Digital dated May 31st...

... in their celebrity gossip section.

No, I'm not kidding.

This is the story those "rumors" have been referencing all week long. It's about Suarez and his on-again-off-again girlfriend vacationing in Miami. It does in fact mention a potential move to Napoli, but in the context of "having to deal with a long distance relationship" again. It cites no sources, just includes it as little more than a throwaway comment. It certainly does nothing to indicate that a deal is imminent, not that it should be taken seriously even if it did.

So that happened.

For his part, Atletico Madrid president Henrique Cerezo denied this morning that there's been any contact at all from Napoli regarding Suarez. Normally such a denial would just be wind in the air, but Cerezo is actually pretty forthcoming about such matters more often than not.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why the transfer window is called "silly season", and what a wonderful example of that silliness it is.