There are many ways to create a transfer rumor. The recommended method is to talk to sources with knowledge of the situation and report on what they say. But the rumor mill will not be constrained by such prosaic standards, especially in the case of a soccer player as famous and coveted as Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
At the weekend, Zlatan helped Paris-Saint Germain to the French League Cup title - scoring twice in PSG's 4-0 win over Bastia. Ibra and his club are still on track for an unlikely "quadruple": the League Cup (won), the French Cup (in the final), the Ligue 1 title (currently top of the table), and the UEFA Champions League (quarterfinal against Barcelona coming up shortly). It's the latter trophy - the one PSG is not favorite to win - that makes a 2015 quadruple unlikely for Zlatan.
Nonetheless, the rumor mill celebrated this first step toward what could be a sublime season, even by Zlatan's standards, with some fresh speculation about his future. Over in the UK, Metro presented a tribute to the art of rumor-mongering, spotting an article in Le Parisien reporting praise heaped upon PSG's other star striker, Edinson Cavani by the club's chairman and chief executive officer, Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
What didn't Al-Khelaifi say? He didn't say anything about Zlatan! Metro deduces this failure to mention one star player when talking about another star player is a "huge boost" to Liverpool's alleged effort to lure Ibrahimovic to Anfield in the summer.
Good luck, Liverpool.
Meanwhile, in Sweden, Aftonbladet opts for a more scientific approach to its rumor-milling: betting odds. About a month ago, the newspaper took a look at the markets on Zlatan's future being offered by a variety of bookmakers, and revealed "shock odds" suggesting Ibra was likely to leave PSG in the summer.
And then Aftonbladet subsequently revealed, in the same piece, that those "shock odds" were more the outlier-opinion of one company. The paper found several competing bookmakers happy to say they didn't think Zlatan was going anywhere in the summer.
In celebration of Ibra's latest trophy, however, Aftonbladet has returned to the odds-makers to get a market-driven take on his future. And the particular odds-maker consulted this time, UniBet, seems pretty confident Zlatan isn't leaving PSG: he's listed at virtually even money (1.10 odds; or 1/10, if you prefer a fractional representation - basically, UniBet would give you $0.10 back for every $1 bet on Zlatan staying at PSG).
But if he doesn't stay at PSG? Well, UniBet lists MLS as his next most likely destination (5.00 or 4/1). And the New York Red Bulls are considered the third-most probable club to win his signature, tied with Chelsea at quoted odds of 15.00 (14/1), but lagging behind PSG (1.10 or 1/10) and LA Galaxy (currently listed by UniBet at 7.00, or 6/1).
That's a step back from the odds Aftonbladet reported on Zlatan to RBNY in March (10.00 or 9/1), but a step forward in the sense that last month the paper was suggesting there were three clubs more likely than the Red Bulls to be selling Ibrahimovic jerseys this summer (PSG, Real Madrid and LA), and now there are only two (PSG and LA).
Progress! The Red Bulls are slowly moving up the list of unlikely summer transfer destinations for Zlatan Ibrahimovic according to Swedish bookmakers who expect him to stay at PSG for another season.
The dream, like Zlatan's ambition for a quadruple this year, is distant and fragile, but not extinguished.