One fine summer morning – lamenting the absence of soccer not involving San Marino from my day – I did the unthinkable and wandered over to the Football section of The Daily Mail. What greeted me was the glaring, and not particularly subtle, headline as follows:
VILLA TO SPURS A DONE DEAL: BARCELONA FORWARD ON VERGE OF JOINING PREMIER LEAGUE
On the face of it, this wasn’t particularly surprising. Since breaking his shin at the 2011 Club World Cup, Spanish striker David Villa had moved down the pecking order at Barcelona, playing most of the 2012-13 season as a substitute after an eight-month layoff due to injury. With the 2014 World Cup approaching and his spot in Spain’s starting XI in jeopardy, and with only one year left on his contract, Villa was seeking a move away from Barcelona to gain regular playing time. Andre Villas Boas – a long-time admirer of Villa – was said to be on the verge of completing the deal to move the striker to Tottenham Hotspur, North London’s second-best club. Personal terms were agreed to, and all that remained was for the clubs to iron out the final details.
Two hours later, David Villa had indeed been signed.
By Atletico Madrid.
Hold on, didn’t you JUST say that he was on the verge of completing his deal with Spurs? The pattern was repeated later that month, when Barcelona (who seem to be in selloff mode this summer, having lost three defenders, two forwards, and a midfielder) were said to be on the verge of losing superstar midfielder Thiago Alcantara to Manchester United. Same scenario -personal terms are agreed to, just ironing out the details, and BAM! Turns out he signed with Bayern Munich.
Football journalism during transfer season is awful – writers are bored as hell, some papers have a specific drum to beat (I’m looking at you, Real Madrid propaganda leaflets Marca and AS!), while others just seek to be the first one to get “the scoop” that ends up being totally wrong. As a public service, we here at the Armchair Sports Society have compiled a list of the most common terms, lingo, and phrases used by bored football journalists during the Transfer Window, having translated each of them into what they really mean.
You’re welcome, world.
#: “What they say” – What they mean
1: “According to Reports” – according to absolutely nobody
2: “______ is understood to be unsettled at his club” – we’d like _____ to be unsettled at his club
3: “This is our year” – this is probably not our year.
Caveat: Unless you’re a newspaper that supports Bayern Munich. Then it’s definitely your year. Hell, it’s probably your decade.
4: “England will win on penalties” – I’m high as balls and have never watched football.
5: “Talks are ongoing” – talks have not yet started.
6: “It’s a done deal” – the player is leaving. Just not to your club. Somewhere else perhaps. Or not.
7: “A source has confirmed” – the voices in my head have confirmed
8: “He’s the English <really good European player” – he’s definitely not as good as <really good European player>, and probably never will be.
9: “Club owner wants manager fired!” – This newspaper wants manager fired!
10: “____ is set for showdown talks” – they might send a text. Not much else.
11: “Arsenal target ____, ____, and ____ as big-money summer signings” – Arsenal targets to sign elsewhere.
12: “_____ has been made Arsenal captain.” – ________ will be playing for a different team next season
13: “Barcelona to seek top-quality central defender” – Barcelona to buy mediocre defensive midfielder and convert them to CB
14: “Real Madrid believe in _____’s value to the team’s success” – Real Madrid believe _____ is totally unnecessary in football terms, but they’ll sell a lot of t-shirts.
15: “Monaco target _______” – AS Monaco will buy ______. And their family. And their house. And their former club. And their country.
16: “Shock as Chelsea manager given the sack!” – We’ve been expecting this for a while. Basically since the moment he was hired – three weeks ago.
17: “New owner promises ‘to make ____ a competitive force'” – new owner will bankrupt team, be charged with fraud in forty-three countries, skip town, and get the team relegated.
18: “QPR signings ‘make me confident’ of promotion, says Redknapp” – QPR will be relegated. Again.
19: “Zlatan wants out of <insert club>!” – Zlatan does want out of <insert club>
20: “BREAKING NEWS:” – I DON’T KNOW HOW TO TURN OFF CAPS LOCK
We hope this has helped cleared up any confusion.