Remember the start of 2005? Everything was better at the start of 2005. There was no such thing as Twitter. The Olympics hadn't been invented yet. My Family was still on television and the Greatest Britishest man in all of Great Britain, Piers 'Britain' Morgan, wasn't. And Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger were openly at war, regularly engaging in verbal fisticuffs to the amusement of everyone but Daily Mail feature writers. See? Better.
Yet for much of the last seven years, an uneasy truce has existed between the pair. Boo! But now, with Manchester United and Robin van Persie all but having tied the knot, no more. Yay! Ferguson is furious over the lack of movement on Arsenal's part and has blasted the Gunners apparently. "It's difficult to know why they are operating in this way," he roared. "We've been trying our best but there's been no progress. You know we've made a bid but Arsenal have been trying to negotiate with other clubs. They are not giving anything away. I've not got a gut feeling about this one. We have not had any breakthrough."
It's almost as if Van Persie is still Arsenal's player and they can do whatever the hell they want.
Rumour has it that Wenger is reluctant to sell Van Persie to United and would rather he jetted off to Juventus. Which would not appear to be the most sensible destination at the moment. United have already made a whopping bid of 3p for Van Persie but Arsenal are looking for £20m and may add on an extra £5m charge if he heads to Old Trafford, just for yuks and giggles.
Manchester City are resigned to missing out on Van Persie and will console themselves by hijacking Tottenham's bid for Leandro Damião. Tottenham's sole striker remains Jermain Defoe, who they sold in 2008. Oh André! Tottenham manager Hank Scorpio's plans for world domination will take a further hit when Real Madrid – who want to offload Kaká to Milan – sign Luka Modric and James Bond disarms his giant laser. But it's not all bad news for Spurs: they've made an approach for Inter's goalkeeper, Julío César, it says here in Big Paper and will fill the Modric-sized hole with Partizan Belgrade's Mohamed Kamara. Because the Premier League can never have enough Kamaras. Or Camaras.
City are also after Roma's Daniele De Rossi. The Mill's got nothing funny to say about that. Or anything else, really. But especially not that. That would just be a really good signing. Well done, Manchester City. Well done. A tip of the hat to you. And a pat on the back, too, if you manage to sign Daniel Agger and give Adam Johnson to Liverpool in return, which would mean Liverpool have 3/11s of the Middlesbrough side that went down in 2009. If this isn't going to be their year, when is? Brendan Rodgers hopes to replace Agger with Atlético Madrid's Uruguayan defender Diego Godín. Meanwhile Liverpool still want Joe Allen. But Swansea want to keep him. So no change there, the teases.
Chelsea will sell Raul Merrellesh to Napoli for £8m and loan Josh McEachran to Blackburn or Bolton, before throwing £18m at Bayer Leverkusen for André Schürrle and battling City for Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente. All these attackers, though. Couldn't Chelsea do with a couple of midfielders?
Michael Owen was recently caught complaining about having to pay 30p to use a toilet, so it's probably about time he found himself a new club. Luckily a big foreign club will come to the rescue. Barcelona? Real Madrid? Newco Rangers? Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Trabzonspor.
Barcelona's new manager Tito Vilanova has refused to comment on the club's interest in Arsenal's Alex Song. "I prefer to not talk about players that are not part of the Barça team," he guffawed. "I think it is disrespectful." You hear, Xavi?
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image: © Mark Freeman