It's not often in the world of transfer rumours that one can truly be surprised any more. The odd tidbit of information leaked by agent or club awash in a sea of bullshit sourced from air by rumour mongers desperate to fill column inches and capture eyeballs viewed through a filter that assumes pretty much all of it isn't true is the reality most have become accustomed to. Sometimes, though, a little bit of batshit happens. Something strange enough it can't help but be noticed.
Something like Luis Suarez amongst the scraps left behind in a restaurant, one of the players Atletico Madrid are supposedly targeting as the Spanish capital's second side looks to embark on their own Galactico era. Atletico have this season made a serious push for the Spanish title and, with enough cash, it's not impossible to imagine them joining Real Madrid and Barcelona on top of the La Liga heap. Enter shirt and strategic sponsors Azerbaijan. And a list discovered by Marca.
Galacticos sell shirts; Azerbaijan is on Atletico's shirts. Azerbaijan have plenty of oil money; Atletico appear primed to take the next step with enough of it. Which brings us back to Luis Suarez, with the sriker's name supposedly left behind on a table in a Madrid restaurant after a meeting between Atletico's top football men and representatives of Azerbaijan who met to firm up their summer plans. Plans that, according to Marca's list, also include Ivan Rakitic, Mathieu Valbuena, and Axel Witsel.
"It's needless to comment about Atletico because I have a contract with Sevilla and I feel good here," Rakitic told Radio Marca when the Spanish media giant's audio arm pressed the midfielder to address what we're calling napkingate regardless of what sort of paper the names were found on. "I have great respect for Atletico but for me there is only one club: Sevilla. Currently there is nothing better than Sevilla and I am not thinking about moving. The talk about me is nice, but I do not care."
Liverpool fans probably shouldn't care, either, and if Liverpool make it back into the Champions League it's unlikely even an ambitious Atletico offers enough to convince Suarez to leave. The striker might still be convinced by a traditional Spanish power, but moving to Atletico would amount to moving for a project and promises, something that seems unlikely at this stage in Suarez' career and assuming Liverpool can begin to deliver on theirs.
Still, at least for novelty value, there's something amusingly new about a list of supposed targets carelessly left behind at a restaurant in Madrid. Even if it's almost certainly just as big a steaming pile of bullshit as 99% of the transfer rumours that clog this series of tubes we call are the internet. And even if it's hard to see it amounting to anything even were it entirely true. Which it probably isn't. Because it's Luis Suarez left behind, hopefully on a napkin, in a restaurant in Madrid.
While we're spending time in the world of rumours that stretch credulity, there have been a few poorly sourced reports Liverpool could pay £35-40M to pry Isco from Real Madrid. It's a pleasant speculation, but with talk only coming from sources with no history of contacts inside Liverpool it's unlikely to be more than that. Perhaps the most surprising thing is no rumour monger has yet turned it into Isco plus cash for Luis Suarez. Maybe someone will find a mattress tag with that on it tomorrow.