“Only 25 per cent of things are true.”
This was the intriguing response offered by Barcelona coach Luis Enrique when asked about the future of his midfielder Ivan Rakitic after the Croatian was left out of the Barca squad that laboured to a 1-1 draw against Villarreal on Sunday evening.
The Mail and other papers suggest the omission is due to Rakitic’s imminent move to Manchester City, but currently we don’t know if that transfer is part of the 25 per cent of things that Enrique says are true.
In fact we don’t know if Enrique was even referring to Rakitic at all. Perhaps he was making a profound philosophical point about the nature of reality in a post-truth world, or perhaps his side’s stuttering defence of their La Liga title is just driving him slowly mad.
One theory we can surely discount is that Enrique thinks 25 per cent of things reported in the football media are true, because it’s far less than that.
For example, Arsenal contract rebel Alexis Sanchez has already been linked with moves to about seven rival clubs this month, but at least of six of them are guaranteed to be wrong.
The latest team tipped to swoop for the Chilean is Paris Saint-Germain, who the Sun says are preparing to “test Arsene Wenger’s resolve” with a £60m summer move. Just behind PSG in the queue are Atletico Madrid, who Spanish jokers Don Balon say have earmarked Sanchez as a replacement for the probably-leaving Antoine Griezmann.
Fellow Gunners contract rebel Mesut Ozil says he won’t stay at the Emirates unless he receives assurances that Wenger is also sticking around (Guardian) – a stance that could leave the Wenger Out brigade feeling very strange and may prompt a few fans’ heads to spontaneously combust, which would be awful.
Ozil will therefore be perturbed by the news, reported in Gazzetta dello Sport, that Juventus manager – and rumoured Wenger replacement – Massimiliano Allegri is learning English. However, he has insisted this is not because he wants to take over at Arsenal. He is probably just planning a trip to Bath with his family in half-term.
Things may be getting more interesting for Swansea now that they’ve ditched Bob Bradley. New Swans boss Paul Clement could use his contacts at Bayern Munich to sign defender Holger Badstuber (Wales Online), while the Welsh club could also sign Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi from Chelsea in a fantastical swap deal with Fernando Llorente (South Wales Evening Post).
Elsewhere, West Ham are continuing their quest to offload all the players they signed in the summer, with open goal-missing winger Sofiane Feghouli in talks with Roma (Sky Sports), Southampton will target Liverpool outcast Mamadou Sakho as a replacement for the transfer-requesting Jose Fonte (Mirror) and Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea are all battling to sign Monaco’s holding midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko (Record). If he’s half the player Ibrahima Bakayoko was, then he’ll be – well, terrible.