I haven't been on Twitter terribly long, but it was pretty amazing to see how a story can take root, blossom and then completely wilt within a matter of hours, as was the case with the Mehdi Benatia to Manchester United rumors we wrung our hands over yesterday. I suppose it's a testament to the times we live in, or simply a prime example of how social media can impact a news cycle, but in a matter of minutes we went from all is quiet on the western front to "oh my god, he's actually on plane to Manchester. I think he had the chicken. It's happening!" and then back to our current state of affairs; which is, quite simply, no one knows what the hell is going on.
The strangest part about yesterday's cycle of rumors was that all the sources and players involved were merely quoting each other and the always ubiquitous "inside source." There were no direct quotes, links or even simple intimations from Roma, United or Benatia himself. So, here is where we stand as of Sunday Morning: Benatia remains a Roma player, albeit one with several well-heeled parties desperate for his services.
For Manchester United, it's a case of embarrassment driving desire. United, fresh off a successful summer tour and high on Luis Van Gaal's ethos, suffered a shocking upset to Swansea in their Premiership opener, spurring the calls for defensive reinforcements. Never mind the fact that they only allowed five shots, blocked four more and held 67% possession, they apparently don't suffer fools gladly in Old Trafford.
The latest club to be re-re-re connected to Mehdi Benatia is Bayern Munich who, in the wake of Javi Martinez's torn ACL, are suddenly in need of a new defender. And, much as they did with Benatia's reported red eye to Manchester, the British press has placed Munich director Michael Reschke on a plane to Roma, where he is undoubtedly already in advanced negotiations with Walter Sabatini, who may or may not still be in London, where he may or may not be selling Benatia and Mattia Destro while picking up Vlad Chiriches, Stevan Jovetic and apparently securing the return of Erik Lamela.
Whatever their respective reasons may truly be, if there is indeed a market for Mehdi Benatia, United, Bayern and Chelsea are now embroiled in a bidding war for the Moroccan's signature; an arrangement which can only stand to benefit Roma's bottom line.
Of course, given the internet heat this rumor generated, it was only natural that the club issued some sort of official statement. Italo Zanzi attempted to calm our nerves by reiterating the clubs stance throughout this whole saga:
Mehdi is our player. According to some media sources he had already been sold, but instead he is training with us in a very professional manner. It's a shame about all these rumours. He is a great person and is behaving in the best possible way. The transfer market is dynamic, as until September 1 we will evaluate every opportunity and ensure we are ready.
Beyond a few loosely sourced quotes about promises of a raise given to him by Sabatini when he first signed, Benatia has remained remarkably silent throughout this whole ordeal. But, as they say, where there's smoke, there's fire, so it certainly feels as though the other shoe is about to drop.
Stay tuned, it could be a busy Sunday