Careless Whispers: How Hakim Ziyech to Arsenal nonsense has got traction

Quick Reads
Hakim Ziyech

Arsenal fans may well be excited by the prospect of Hakim Ziyech joining the club this month – but they probably shouldn’t get their hopes up too high.

Along with general news, we have quite purposely steered clear of covering transfer gossip on this website. It’s highly unlikely we’d ever be able to tell you anything first so what would be the point? All we could do is repeat what we’d read elsewhere.

That, of course, is something many other websites are more than happy to do. And hey, we won’t criticise them for it; we’ve all got to make a living somehow and we make no secret of the fact that a lot of the articles we publish on here are quick reads intended to occupy you for five minutes and then be forgotten about.

And there’s no doubt lots and lots of people like to read transfer gossip, no matter how tenuous. We’re not going to say you’d be any better off reading us go over the top about a 14-pass move that led to a corner; it’s just a different way to waste some of your working day.

But if like us, you don’t get any kind of enjoyment from reading the same piece of gossip regurgitated ad infinitum you might enjoy a new feature we’re trialling this January, Careless Whispers, in which we’ll look at how some of the most tenuous of links becomes repeated to the extent that everyone starts to believe it might actually happen.

And we’re starting with a doozy: Hakim Ziyech to Arsenal.

How it began

Arsenal were first linked with Ziyech last summer after the attacking midfielder had caught the eye in Ajax’s run to the Champions League semi-finals.

However, David Ornstein, the man when it comes to Arsenal transfer news, insisted the rumours were just that.

“Arsenal have analysed him and he’s not a player that they will be pursuing as far as I know,” Ornstein told Arseblog. “He would welcome the move and Ajax would sell for around £30million but that’s not on Arsenal’s agenda.”

It didn’t stop the rumours, of course, but Ornstein was proven to be right, with Arsenal never making a move for Ziyech despite failing to sign Wilfried Zaha.

How it restarted

One of the first rules of the rumour mill is that once a link has been made, it can be repeated forever until that player moves elsewhere – and even then it still provides a useful narrative for down the line if the player should then go on to face the club who apparently wanted to sign him.

Anyway, Ziyech is still at Ajax, and on January 3 the Italian website Calciomercato published a 29-word article in which they claimed the Moroccan is available for transfer this month.

Now Calciomercato, at least as far as we’re aware, is not the place to go for exclusive transfer news from Italy, never mind a potential deal involving English and Dutch clubs, but in those 29 words they state there is ‘strong interest from Arsenal’.

However, Calciomercato, as they do, appear to have merely repeated a rumour from elsewhere rather than claim to have provided an exclusive themselves, stating the Arsenal link comes from England.

A quick Google search reveals there had been nothing written on these shores about Ziyech to Arsenal since the summer – when the original rumour was dismissed by Ornstein, of course – but those 29 words from Calciomercato have well and truly kicked the transfer bullshit machine into action again…

How it grew

Indeed, on websites indexed by NewsNow alone there were 17 separate articles written about Ziyech to Arsenal on Sunday. Headlines led on Arsenal’s ‘strong interest’, Ajax’s ‘stance’ and the ‘boost’ the Gunners – and Tottenham, apparently – have received following the news.

And even though they almost certainly know it’s rubbish, one website has taken it a step further with this headline: Arsenal fans excited by Unai Emery’s transfer hint about Hakim Ziyech amid fresh links.

What’s the hint, we hear you ask? Has Emery been interviewed about what Arsenal’s transfer plans were before he left?

No, but he did like a tweet from a fan in July which translated as: ‘There are new players this week, bro? Ziyech said he was waiting for a call from Arsenal.’

He deleted his like shortly afterwards and – pesky facts – Arsenal didn’t sign Ziyech in the summer and have since sacked Emery, but the Daily Mirror has taken it further still.

‘Arsenal have been linked with a move for Ajax star Hakim Ziyech this January,’ they write.

‘But it seems the Gunners may have been tracking the Moroccan midfielder for some time, if a rogue Twitter ‘like’ from former boss Unai Emery is anything to go by.’

The standard has been set. Can the barrel be scraped even further? We can’t wait to find out.

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