You may have seen the reports on social media that Manchester City are about to pay €300million to sign Lionel Messi. Or the so-called quotes from Sheikh Mansour, promising fans that in the coming days City will pull off the biggest transfer in football history.
Unfortunately, all of this is easy to debunk and just another example of how easily dodgy information can go viral and create fake news.
It all started with a tweet from a well-followed Arabic Twitter account, posting a remark from Sheikh Mansour promising the biggest deal in football history.
الشيخ منصور ( مالك نادي مانشستر سيتي ) : إنتظرو في الأيام القليله القادمه أكبر و أضخم صفقه في تاريخ كرة القدم .
– من هو اللاعب ؟ 🔥 pic.twitter.com/fSYm433eRd
— أهم المباريات ⚽️ (@beINmov2) August 17, 2017
This quote was a fake, never reported or verified by anyone in the press. Despite having ‘beIN’ in its username, the account is not associated with beIN SPORTS, which was quickly named as the source of the information by some.
Not only that, it would be completely out of character for Sheikh Mansour to make such a comment, having rarely spoken publicly about Manchester City, and whenever he has in a reserved manner.
On the heels of that, another Arabic account tweet that Manchester City were set to trigger Lionel Messi’s €300million release clause in the coming days. That tweet, another speculative one based on nothing but the imagination of its author, has since been deleted.
Unfortunately, once something starts on social media, it doesn’t stop.
Since then, reports of Lionel Messi following City on Instagram have spread like wildfire. It’s true, Lionel Messi does follow Manchester City on Instagram. He followed Manchester City on Instagram in 2014 and may have re-followed them yesterday.
Messi also follows Chelsea on Instagram, and Thibaut Courtois. It always has the same outcome.
Note the timestamps on the following stories:
And then today, Yahoo Sport France tweeted the following:
— Yahoo Sport France (@YahooSportFR) August 20, 2017
The tweet sources Romain Collet-Gaudin, a young journalist who likes to post transfer rumours from around the world on Twitter. On his timeline however, there is no mention of Messi to Manchester City, only a retweet of the above. So why wouldn’t Romain have more on his timeline about this great big world exclusive?
You only need to open the Yahoo Sport France website for your answer. Their Lionel Messi story, presumably posted by Romain, is based entirely on Lionel Messi following Manchester City on Instagram.
You never know in football. Barcelona appear to be in something of a mess and a phone call from Pep Guardiola could finally convince him to move to the Etihad Stadium. But if that was to happen, make no mistake, it wouldn’t be based on any of the above. That is simply an example of how one tweet can find its way on to a mainstream news site, which will then be parroted on countless other news sites – creating a huge story out of pretty much nothing.
— Yahoo Sport UK (@YahooSportUK) August 20, 2017