Fernando Llorente to Arsenal rumour lights up Twitter
Social networking site starts generating its own news as Gunners tweet causes confusion
IT'S A classic example of the power of social networking site Twitter, and shows that football fans no longer even need to rely on the traditional media to get worked up over a transfer rumour. Claims that Arsenal were set to sign Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente swept the Twittersphere today, with nary a word on the matter printed by newspapers or football websites.
The story appeared to kick off thanks to a tweet from Javi Gomara, a journalist at Barcelona-based sports daily Mundo Deportivo. Late on Sunday night he posted a message in Spanish on the social networking site about a rumour that was doing the rounds in Bilbao.
"They say that on Tuesday it will be announced that Fernando Llorente is going to Arsenal. It would be a huge loss," he wrote, in Spanish.
Quite where that rumour came from is unclear, and Gomara certainly didn't afford it a huge amount of credibility, but the remark prompted a meltdown in parts of north London and the expression "Llorente to Arsenal" soon became a trending topic worldwide.
And, as often happens, once the rumour was given even more oxygen by appearing on Twitter's 'trending' column, more and more people piled in asking whether it was true.
Some Arsenal fans appeared to believe it was a done deal while others said they hoped it would happen. An interview with Llorente is which he said he liked London also started doing the rounds and was presented as evidence of the rumour's truth. One wag, who pretends to be a football reporter for The Times, even made up quotes from Llorente saying he was looking forward to playing for Arsenal.
Some more sceptical fans poured opporbrium on the head of the journalist who had the temerity to say what he had heard. Other Arsenal supporters, and many from other clubs, simply scoffed at the possibility, and by doing so kept the subject trending. M4tty tweeted: "Llorente to Arsenal, if only Twitter did transfers."
With the mainstream media steering clear of the story it was left to the Arsenal bloggers to clarify matters.
The Armchair Gooner said the hoopla was "quite funny, and obviously not true". He added: "The transfer window has progressively worsened with speculation as the years have passed. Twitter's emergence has enabled even the silliest of stories to quickly gain popularity, and most of them are either taken out of context, or [are] entirely false attempts to gain a little attention."
It might not be the last we hear of Llorente this summer. The big forward could be leaving Athletic Bilbao this summer and has already been linked with £30m move to Manchester City, and given the splash he has made on Twitter the rumour mill is likely to swing into top gear.