Chelsea easy targets for tiresome transfer speculation

Posted by Phil Lythell

Carl Court/AFP/Getty ImagesSince Roman Abramovich took hold of Chelsea in 2003, the transfer rumor mill always somehow involves the Blues.

Now that the I's have been dotted and the T's crossed on Jose Mourinho's re-appointment as Chelsea manager, the transfer rumour mill has whirred fully into action.

Whenever a transfer window opens, Chelsea are one of the prime suspects upon which to pin endless amount of speculation and conjecture. The history of Roman Abramovich's largesse in the ten years that he has owned the club has more or less legitimised the fanciful stories that have populated the digital and traditional media in that time. As a consequence, it has dulled the senses. Whereas an enticing transfer rumour used to get the supporters' juices flowing in excited anticipation, the deluge of baseless, invented links has resulted in a certain apathy setting in.

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There can be very few players at or near the top of the world game over the past decade that have not been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge by some news outlet at some point in time. Those at rival clubs have generally been off the menu -- Ashley Cole and Fernando Torres excepted -- but perhaps Lionel Messi is the only major star at a club outside the Premier League not to have even been tentatively mentioned in connection with the Blues, possibly because he has rarely impressed despite numerous contests between Chelsea and Barcelona. Clearly, that is said in jest even if he has never scored against the Londoners, though the fact remains that only the most untouchable of all footballers has been deemed highly unlikely to swap Las Ramblas for Fulham Road.

Despite the exasperation at the constant stream of nonsense being spouted regarding potential targets, it could be seen as a compliment at the status that Chelsea presently hold in the football world at large. Suddenly it isn't ludicrous to suggest that the very best technicians on the planet might be interested in a move to West London. The Blues have never had a reigning Ballon D'Or winner in their ranks as yet, though it is not too far-fetched to say that could easily change in the coming years. Should Eden Hazard's wizardry lead the Blues to their second European Cup, then there is no reason why he would not win the votes of the continents' coaches and journalists. Or if that doesn't happen, they would still have the stature and wherewithal to lure whoever does lift the prize.

For those who have been fervently supporting the club since well before the Russian revolution took hold in 2003, the landscape could not be more different from the one they surveyed in their younger days. Of course, much of the upsurge in Chelsea news stories is due to the birth of new media and the need to chase hits in the never-ending quest to accrue advertising revenue, something that has turned the lowly transfer rumour into the 'killer app' -- to borrow from the lexicon of online entrepreneurship. However, it is also a consequence both of genuine investment and genuine success. Ken Bates started the ball rolling by bringing in Ruud Gullit, Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Di Matteo, Gianfranco Zola, et al and Abramovich has accelerated that initial burst of progress to see to help transform a club that was seen in the 1980s as being unfashionable at best -- downright squalid at worst -- into one worthy of winning the most venerable honours in England and in Europe.

To be the subject of non-stories, assumption and fabricated, that is the price that a club pays for success. The worldwide community of fans/consumers grows ever larger and with that the market for peddlers of news and merchandise has swollen further still. The club becomes an object of desire and an opportunity to make money. There is nothing wrong with that though the overwhelming amount of spurious headlines forced into one's eyeballs can become tiresome. The worst aspect of this is that sometimes actual stories get lumped on top of the rumour scrap heap with it becoming impossible to sort the genuine from the make-believe.

Take the latest links to Napoli striker Edinson Cavani, for example. Chelsea's interest in the player is known, though whether they have actually made an offer is not despite the plethora of tweets purporting to know everything about buyout clauses and astronomical bids. Is it true? Who knows and, quite frankly, who cares. If the Uruguayan does move to Stamford Bridge then there will be much justified excitement at the acquisition of a high class centre forward, though until then it has the same level of veracity as a potential move for Messi.

Chelsea Football Club have adhered to the sensible policy of not confirming or denying anything until it becomes official. It is the only way to negotiate the minefield of agents, journalists and rival club presidents during a period when everybody is trying to extract the best deal for themselves. The best suggestion that can be made to the club's supporters is to adopt the same approach and get excited only when you see 'that' player holding his blue shirt aloft. Otherwise, a summer of false dawns and anti-climax awaits.

Follow Phil Lythell on Twitter @PhilLythell

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