The novelty of the coronavirus shutdown had a good run, but slowly and surely, it is now being knocked off its pedestal within the football media.
As outlets all over Europe brainstorm ideas to keep the traffic coming during what has been a crippling few weeks, we're seeing articles of all shapes, sizes and descriptions flood our screens
Classic matches, challenges, best 11s, worst 11s, footballers Q&As, footballers with dogs, footballers with cats, it's all there, and a lot of it is very, very good and welcome to be fair.
Name the best player in Premier League history that represent the following countries:— 90min (@90min_Football) March 29, 2020
The nucleus of it all, however, is the great bastion of normalcy that reminds us more than anything that once it's all over, we'll still have our favourite sport to go back to.
That is, of course, transfer rumours.
In the midst of all the chaos, the Paul Pogba to Juventus chat has prevailed, as has the Neymar back to Barcelona saga which will never actually end. And on Monday, another long-simmering story came back to the forefront; Liverpool's interest in Barcelona's troubled starlet Ousmane Dembele.
Klopp wants to pursue a deal for Ousmane Dembele, but would he even get in the team?— 90min (@90min_Football) March 30, 2020
Or is it because he expects someone to leave? 類 https://t.co/FC86nm0IgV
There's a lot to break down, but the crux of it is that Jurgen Klopp is said to have personally requested that Liverpool go after the 22-year-old, who would become the club's record signing at £80m.
The new story might, of course, hold little weight, only coming to light due to a desperate drought of other news. 90min's understanding as far back as February, however, has been that Liverpool do see the France star as an option, and might consider a move under the right circumstances.
Whichever way you look at it, then, there is an undeniable precedent for interest there. But why? Where does it come from? And would he actually be a good signing?
One of the common myths surrounding this one is that Klopp and Dembele are destined to be reunited after the time they spent together at Borussia Dortmund. That, simply, is not true.
Dembele joined Dortmund from Stade Rennais for £13.5m in July 2016; by which time Klopp has been Liverpool manager for eight months and was preparing for his first full season at Anfield.
There's no escaping the fact, though, that Klopp is obviously well-connected at Dortmund. So much so that Raphael Honigstein revealed on the Totally Football Show in 2018 that the German used Barcelona's interest in Philippe Coutinho to help BVB hike up Dembele's price tag, eventually resulting in his €120m move to Catalonia.
All that in mind, it's not exactly a wild stretch to assume Klopp knows more about Dembele than your average outsider looking in.
Is He a 'Liverpool' Signing?
Dembele links are often treated with a well-founded scepticism, rooted in the fact that in more ways than one, Dembele as a concept flies in the face of Liverpool's modern strategy.
The bulk of the current team - the European champions, runaway Premier League leaders, and one of the best teams modern-day English football has seen - has been made up largely of low-risk signings, with exceptions made only in specific, specialist positions.
Dembele falls into neither category. He is far more of an established 'superstar' than the likes of Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mané were at the time of their respective signings, while he would cost a good deal more. Neither is he a drastic Virgil van Dijk or Alisson-style drastic improvement on the current group.
Dembele also has a track record of attitude problems and an injury history that would make Danny Welbeck wince; not exactly prototype attributes, so it's easy to see why questions are raised.
So, Why Then?
The fact that the previous transfer strategy has worked so effectively, however, might just mean that Dembele is a risk worth taking. It wouldn't quite be throwing caution to the wind; careful investments, clever marketing and exponential growth both financially and on the pitch means that the Reds are now well in the green.
It also might be just what the player needs. Clearly, his big move to Barcelona hasn't worked out; whether it got to his head, whether it was badly managed or whether it was simply the injury situation that derailed him, it's obvious that the Nou Camp isn't quite the right environment for the next stage in his development.
If the aforementioned issues can be worked through; if the Liverpool medical team are confident his injuries can be overcome, if Klopp and Michael Edwards are convinced his attitude is right, and if Dembele is prepared to knuckle down and fight for his place; then the nurturing Anfield environment that has patiently got the best out of many a problem asset in recent years might just be the best place for him.
And if, if the move was to go ahead, and Dembele was to get up to a standard anything close to his best, then it would be an incredible signing.
31 goal-involvements in his final season at Dortmund attest to that.
Where Would He Fit In?
It's no secret Liverpool are after another forward. The signing of Takumi Minamino in January negated the immediate necessity, but it's fairly obvious they're after an upgrade on the likes of Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri in order to take the next step forward.
That signing would have to be versatile, of a good age, and of the standard required to make an immediate impact.
22-year-old Dembele, as good with his left foot as he is with his right? Check, check and check.
Ousmane Dembélé's goals & assists across all club competitions:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 11, 2020
Left foot: Right foot:
• 20 goals • 20 goals
• 20 assists • 18 assists
We have to wait *another* six months for him to restore balance. pic.twitter.com/vf8GVfM5wj
In truth, speculation should probably be taken with a pinch of salt for now. It's nice to dream, but there are a lot of moving parts, and there is more going against this one than for it.
As a football fan, however, you can't help but wonder 'what if?'
And in the case of Dembele, the possibilities are endless.