"Reports from Spain". It's a good phrase. Both mysterious and reassuring, as though the short hop across the water from the Iberian peninsula has invested these reports with an exotic authority. Surely a rumour wouldn't come all that way just to waste everybody's time?
These particular reports from Spain have originated with the Catalan newspaper Sport, who are claiming in no uncertain terms that (a) Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels will not be joining Barcelona, because (b) he is instead joining Manchester United, in exchange for (c) a fee of €20m.
Reports from Spain quickly become reports from England, of course, and both the Mirror and the Daily Mail have United "closing in," a transfer cliche that always sounds faintly threatening. Sharks "close in" on swimmers. Be afraid, Mats. We know Ed Woodward has left United's pre-season tour for business reasons. Is that his fin disappearing into the water? Can you hear a cello?
Ahem. Reports from Germany, however, aren't so promising. Here's Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp, as quoted widely across various sources including, with a quite disarming lack of self-awareness, the same Mirror story linked above:
[Hummels and Marco Reus] will stay here this season. There is no tendency they'd want to be elsewhere. Did they also say €20m? When papers mention such numbers you know it's garbage.
Reports from Twitter -- not a sovereign nation yet, no, but give it a few years -- are also less than encouraging:
Just to recap, I asked the English journalist to whom Sport attributed the Hummels-to-United story & he was confused. He's still on holiday.— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) July 21, 2014
Oh, what a tangled web.