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Barcelona, Real Madrid and Transfer Rumors From Another Age

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This is a stark shift in soccer’s panorama. For many years, the working assumption has been that Real Madrid and Barcelona signify the apex of the game’s hierarchy: They have been its alphas, its ultimate locations, its mega-predators. That now not holds true. Real Madrid and Barcelona, for now and for a while to come back, now not sit on the prime of the meals chain.

That soccer’s whirling rumor trade has not seen this doesn’t matter, significantly. It is, by its very nature, barely fantastical. That is a part of the enjoyable. Should a whisper ricocheting between click-hungry web sites throughout Europe show to be grounded in nothing however smoke and air then it doesn’t, actually, do any hurt*. There could also be disappointment on the finish — whenever you count on Mohamed Salah however get Luuk de Jong — however within the meantime, readers benefit from the flight of fancy. The advertisers get eyeballs. The web sites receives a commission.

[*Other than to further undermine trust in the news ecosystem in general, and therefore permit the rise of the deliberately, cynically unreliable and the perniciously fake.]

What is important, although, is that gamers — or, extra precisely, brokers — don’t but appear to have caught on to that truth. The recreation’s altered tectonics imply that, for a participant like Salah, flirting with Marca and AS is now not a lot of a bargaining chip. Real Madrid isn’t an instantaneous risk to Liverpool, not any extra.

That is a crucial change, and not essentially a optimistic one. Players on the Premier League’s prime six groups — roughly — are successfully trapped. They is not going to promote to one another, not simply, as Tottenham proved in refusing Manchester City’s advances for Harry Kane final summer time. The solely membership that may afford to extricate them is, most probably, P.S.G.

Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, particularly, are now not proving grounds for Real Madrid and Barcelona. In these interviews, Salah twice mentioned that his future was in his membership’s arms. It was taken, on the time, as a problem to Liverpool: to supply him a contract that fulfilled his true worth, or else.