The18 grew deeply excited this morning as it turned to the back pages (read: internet) of The Liverpool Echo and came across the words "Liverpool remain favourites to sign Swedish mega star Zlatan Ibrahimovic". And all for just $16 million.
Holy Kung Fu moose hunt!, we thought. Zlatan in the Premier League!, we said to ourselves. What excitement must pulse through Merseyside as scouse scallys salivate over the prospect of hot-wiring one of the Swede's fleet of supercars!, we wondered. The unadulterated joy that must swirl within the Liverpool FC Official Store as they savour the prospect of small children throughout the city guilt-tripping their parents into paying an extra $40 to have all those letters screened onto the back of their newly purchased replica kit!, we mused. At length. Oh sweet baby Moses let it be true!
Then we read these four simple words, which crushed our very souls: "..... according to the Metro."
For those fortunate enough not to be acquainted with The Metro, it's a free paper produced as a sort of charity for the damned millions forced to commute into London's dark heart every weekday morning. The Metro is a peddler of myth and fallacy, and in its digital form a shameless click-hunting pit of SEO-driven nonsense. If The Metro reports that Christmas is December 25th, brace yourself for a chubby bearded gentleman head-to-toe in crimson squeezing down your chimney come late August. If The Metro reports that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is on his way to Liverpool, you can be sure it's because Google Adwords told them to do so.
By now you might have sensed that we're not entirely confident big Zlatan is on his way to Liverpool. But is there any kernel of truth in the story? Could there be even the flimsiest of hooks upon which to hang our transfer gossip hats?
Certainly Liverpool would like to snare the big Swede, of that there can be little doubt: they need a big shiny name to distract attention from the abject season they’ve just completed; they need a global megastar to placate the fan base should Raheem Sterling leave for Man City or, worse still, United; they need someone who can score goals to replace their current crop of injured, shit or both injured and shit strikers who managed just seven goals between them last season; and they need another magnanimous, well-adjusted and selfless presence in the dressing room following the inevitable exit of Mario Balotelli.
Would Zlatan move to Merseyside? Stories have been swirling since December that Ibrahimovic has grown tired of Paris, and they only intensified after his extraordinary anti-France rant back in April. However, while we can comprehend a man who’s had seven clubs in 15 years getting itchy feet, is Liverpool really his next mistress? Zlatan still hasn’t won the Champions League and, turning 34 later this year, time very definitely isn’t on his side. He certainly wouldn’t get a pop at it next year if he joined Brendan Rodgers’s squad this summer, and maybe not the season after that, either.
No, if Zlatan wants to play in the Premier League, we can only see one likely destination: Chelsea. His love for Jose Mourinho is well documented, and if the West Londoners are prepared to take a look at four-goal Radamel Falcao surely to goodness they’d be prepared to stump up 10 million quid for a player who racked up 30 in all competitions last year.
The Metro really didn’t think this one through, did they? Just imagine all the clicks they’d have garnered if their headline was “Ibrahimovic to Liverpool OR Chelsea”.