A number of publications in the former Soviet Union, as well as Britain's soccerlens.com, reported on Wednesday that the Times had included Bugduv in their January 12 list of Football's Top 50 Rising Stars.
"Some names on this list of football starlets you will know, others you may not," wrote The Times, going on to describe No. 30 as "Moldova's finest."
"The 16-year-old attacker has been strongly linked with a move to Arsenal, work permit permitting. And he's been linked with plenty of other top clubs as well," the British paper said.
However, Bugduv, who was said to play for Moldova's Olimpia Balti, has never been heard of in his native country. He is not listed on the club's website or on the site of the country's football association.
"It looks like the Moldovan player will become popular in England," wrote Moldavskii Sport, "unfortunately, mainly as the subject of jokes."
The player has been written about on a number of blogs and message boards, and is thought to be part of an elaborate prank. One that The Times seems to have fallen for.