When a player becomes one of the most hated men in the capital of Spain, what's a rumour monger to do? Why, link him to Liverpool, of course. At least, that seems to be the reaction in Spain following Denis Cheryshev's role in a controversial Copa del Rey match last night.
In Spain, yellow card punishments are separate in the league and cup, and the 24-year-old Cheryshev wasn't eligible to play Madrid's first cup tie last night as he was serving out the a suspension for accumulation of yellow cards in last year's competition while on loan with Villarreal. Or he was supposed to be, at least.
He apparently didn't know this, and neither did anyone on Rafa Benitez' technical staff or in Madrid's upper management. And so he played. And today, Madrid are likely to be expelled from the Copa del Rey as a result of that. He is also today once again being linked with a Liverpool move by the Spanish press.
Having been linked for a few windows now, it's hardly surprising to see Cheryshev's name pop up again. The timing, though, is amusing to say the least, and seems to be the work either of annoyed journalist-fans or of someone within the club deciding to leak they're trying to sell as some kind of damage control.
If Liverpool had really wanted him, they could have had him last summer when he returned from Villarreal and Madrid signalled they had no desire to keep him around. If they'd really wanted him, they probably could have got him in the summer before when Madrid loaned him to Villarreal after nobody met their asking price.
Having played a grand total of 103 minutes this season and facing a future where he's likely to see even less, perhaps at this point the rumour should be that Madrid will pay Liverpool to take him. Because short of that, he's a player Liverpool don't actually seem interested in who's set to spend the year sat in the stands.
In the summer, either Madrid or Cheryshev's agent dangled Liverpool's name in attempt to drum up interest in him. There was no suggestion from journalists with ties to the Reds that there was any genuine interest on their end. On the back of last night's Madrid farce, it's hard to imagine that suddenly changing.