This January transfer window, especially compared to others in recent times, has been distinctly quiet for Liverpool.
Not only have the Anfield side not made a signing yet, but the number of rumours being reported in the media is also much less than we've come to expect.
Long gone are the days when a club would sign a player completely out of the blue, Ousamma Assaidi's arrival last summer aside—instead now protracted deals are played out in the media often for weeks leading up to them being finalised.
Even with reports in the media, though, they should all be taken with a large grain of salt.
There are numerous reasons for this, not least the scattergun approach that some media sources take to reporting them—spray enough bullets and eventually one will hit the target, right?
Then there's the numerous times a manager denies a report which later proves true, doing so with reason; usually to protect the interests of the club. Admitting a player is available for transfer often being a sure way of reducing the value of the said player.
All this though doesn't stop the natural desire of football supporters desperate to hear who their club may or may not be signing. For supporters, each report offers some hope—no matter its credibility.
There are, if you choose to browse the weird and wonderful world of Twitter, certain accounts dedicated to providing "exclusive" "insider" knowledge of Liverpool FC and, specifically, transfer dealings.
Liverpool's former website editor, Jimmy Rice, explained on his Twitter account this week that fans claiming to have inside knowledge on transfer dealings are "almost certainly not telling the truth."
Any fan claiming to get inside information on #LFC transfers is almost certainly not telling the truth. It just doesn't happen.— Jimmy Rice (@JimmyRiceWriter) January 13, 2014
Rice is right; why would any Liverpool employee leak such sensitive information? Information that could potentially scupper a deal or at least have some bearing on it? Anyone found doing so would likely end up no longer being a club employee, with good reason.
In July, the Liverpool website This Is Anfield explained how a few high-profile Twitter accounts wrongly reported a simple tweet by The Times' Rory Smith—which led to numerous "mainstream" media sources reporting the false claim.
Likewise, the Liverpool supporter Dominic Campbell, who runs the fans site KopSource, started a rumour in the summer that Liverpool were interested in signing former Chelsea forward Solomon Kalou. This was then reported by several mainstream media sources in the UK and abroad and this January even led to the Lille president commenting on the reports.
Never in a million years would I have thought that I would start a rumour leading a club president to slap an €87m price tag on his player.— Dominic Campbell (@dom_campbell) January 9, 2014
Similarly, Campbell also started an April Fool's linking Liverpool with a move for a fake player named "Lakov Tekaz"—a play on words where supporters use the term "tekkers" to describe a player with good technique.
The fake tweet led to respected Spanish outlet Marca reporting the claim.
Proof, then, that even some "mainstream" media are too playing the guessing game.
Who can forget the memorable case of "Duncan Jenkins"—a Twitter faker who claimed to have inside knowledge of Liverpool lineups before they were announced, exclusive transfer news and attracted almost 40,000 followers at the height of his "fame."
Jenkins later announced himself to be a fake character and was revealed as lifelong supporter Sean Cummins.
The story though took an unsavoury twist when it emerged that the then-communications director, Jen Chang, had met with Cummins and threatened the spoofer with sending "dogshit through his letterbox," as per The Guardian report. Liverpool were forced to make an apology and Chang was sacked.
Chang had reportedly told Cummins that his transfer "reports" had "cost the club money, specifically on the [Fabio] Borini deal."
No wonder Liverpool were so keen to find the suspected "mole"—even if Chang's actions weren't quite the way which they'd have hoped to go about finding and plugging the leak.
Perhaps this January's lack of reports and leaked information is due to Liverpool taking action to ensure information is no longer leaked.
The story of Jenkins is proof that educated and calculated guesswork can often come true in football and that is what so many transfer "reports" rely upon, including those in the tabloid media.