Take it from me: the easiest way to attract people to a football website is just to continuously publish flakey transfer-rumours. Link a well-known player to a well-supported club, and you will be in business.
Conversely, write a 2,000 word think-piece on the merits of one formation versus another, and the vast majority will simply not bother. Therefore, when the transfer window shuts, there’s a real problem; tired, old rumours have to be dusted down and re-published to hit traffic marks.
…and that could be why Goal.com have gone with their ‘Leighton Baines will demand to leave Everton if they don’t reach the Champions League’ story today. The cynical – and realistic – amongst you, will probably bracket this with all of the rumours from last Summer, the very same ones which Baines himself dismissed not so long ago.
“Leighton Baines will tell Everton he wants to leave if the club fail to qualify for the Champions League.
The left-back has been in excellent form so far this season as Everton challenge for a top-four finish in the Premier League and believes this summer could represent his last chance of a transfer to a top club.”
No quotes, no real evidence, just a rather flimsy theory.
Without knowing Leighton Baines personally, I’d still question whether this kind of behaviour fits his character. Baines has been fiercely loyal to David Moyes, and had he really wanted to leave Everton in the past, there would have been far better times to do it. While you can never rule out a player’s sale, it’s just very unlikely that Baines is the type to give his club an ultimatum in the middle of, what is still, a very promising season.
Why would he?
Or maybe I’m wrong, and he really is about to storm into Moyes’ office, swat his manager’s coffee cup of the desk, and tell him he’s off unless he gets to play Barcelona and Bayern Munich next year.
On a completely unrelated topic, this story must have generated lots of clicks for Goal, and their digital revenue is probably through the roof today.