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Debunking the transfer rumor linking Miguel Almiron to Arsenal

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A textbook case of an unsubstantiated report gone wild.

MLS: New England Revolution at Atlanta United FC Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

On October 2, TyC Sports published a report stating the River Plate midfielder Pity Martinez would soon be on his way to Atlanta United to replace Miguel Almiron, who, according to the report, would go to England this winter. The Pity Martinez part of the rumor is what caught the attention of Atlanta United fans, but the rest of the world’s concern is Almiron’s destination. After all, Almiron has made his ambitions known since the beginning of his journey in Atlanta, and reiterated this summer that he wanted to be playing in Europe in 2019.

But where did the Arsenal rumors come from? And for only £11 million? Atlanta United President Darren Eales laughed off the notion that he’d be sold so cheaply, and for good reason—the rumor is nonsense. And like most transfer rumors, it started with a tweet.

The morning after the TyC report, this unverified Paraguayan twitter account (with 16k followers) apparently made up some quotes from one “Darren Eagles.” It reports that Eagles [sic] spoke to Fox Deportes USA, but a quick google search for the exact quote returns no results from before the existence of this tweet. That’s because Darren Eales never said this. Of course, other outlets picked it up and used it as corroboration of their own erroneous reports—and even added more inaccurate details.

Two days later on October 5, Ole.com.ar adds a figure of £11 million, failing to cite any source or even mentioning an anonymous source of this key piece of information. Where did it come from? We’ll get to that in a second, but at this point, the rumor already started to take off after zero credible information. The rumor made it to the Arsenal subreddit r/gunners, and also to a very popular Arsenal fan account on twitter with 78k+ followers.

With almost 1,400 responses to that tweet, plus 2,471 likes and 1,221 retweets, the rumor was well and truly on. Based off of imaginary quotes from “Darren Eagles.” But what about the £11 million ($15 million) figure? Where did that come from in the Ole report? They probably just did a google search trying to find more information, and found this:

They must not have checked the date though, because this report is from 2016, when Almiron was still playing for Lanús. But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good story, and more importantly, your clicks. Even Sky Sports has gotten in on the action, going so far as to create original digital content.

It’s understandable for fans to be suckered into thinking there’s substance to the rumor when Sky is treating it like this. And by the way, even after all of this, Almiron could still absolutely go to Arsenal. But there’s nothing that would indicate as much based on current information. Almiron will likely end up somewhere in the Premier League anyway, as was admitted by Tata Martino himself in an interview with Henry Winter in The Times.

“The moment when Miguel Almiron leaves & goes to your country [England], then I think there will be a different view of the MLS.”

Source: The Times

The lesson to be learned here is to take every transfer rumor you hear with a grain of salt, because there’s little incentive for anyone to spend time disproving this stuff. Doing that would just mean fewer pageviews, less flattering analytics reports for content editors to show their bosses, etc.