16. Anatomy of a transfer saga
Fabregas, still a bit woozy after so many about turns he could have auditioned for 'Black Swan,' is seen being driven from Manchester airport to Old Trafford in a blacked out Mercedes. With the window down.
5. Anatomy of a transfer saga
Ah yes, quotes. Tricky things. Without them, his story has no legs. With his pal Unnamed Source, however, he'll be all over that Sky Sports yellow ticker before you can say 'lies, damn lies and statistics!' Unnamed Source happens to be his best mate Fred, whose geographical proximity to the Emirates Stadium - he lives in a semi- detached townhouse near the ground with his mother and two cats - means that he is, technically, a source close to the player. "Cesc is not happy to have spent another season without a trophy and has let it be known he'd be open to a move to Old Trafford," says Fred.
1. Anatomy of a transfer saga
It starts on a Monday afternoon, nothing much happening. Red Top Reporter is jittery with caffeine, spinning in his swivel chair, blue biro chomped down to the bit, seeking inspiration from somewhere. Anywhere. An idea hits him.
3. Anatomy of a transfer saga
It's lucky dip time. The names and the clubs go into two separate woolly hats. Red Top Reporter picks out one name, Frank Lampard, and one club, Manchester United, and a transfer saga is born.
10. Anatomy of a transfer saga
Fabregas himself slaps in a transfer request, then withdraws it, then slaps it in again. Then withdraws it. Then tells the world he's happy and can bring the title to North London. Then tells his agent to see what United are offering. Then gets dizzy and falls over.
8. Anatomy of a transfer saga
Up in Manchester, Sir Alex takes a break from och-ayeing over the skills of Anderson to take in the quotes from his arch nemesis Wenger. He had, of course, no intention of signing Fabregas but Wenger's comments are like a red rag to a Scotsman.
11. Anatomy of a transfer saga
Malcolm Glazer, initially sceptical about spending so much money on one player, sells one of his sons to Roman Abramovich for £74m plus a yacht, make that two yachts, and tells Fergie to go right on ahead and sign up the schemer.
14. Anatomy of a transfer saga
Wenger finally realises he's about to lose Fabregas, so he rings Sky Sports News to tell shouty presenter Jim White how he's never been more convinced of the player's loyalty to the club. Mind games.
12. Anatomy of a transfer saga
United make a formal offer of £21m plus Tomasz Kuszczak. Wenger laughs dismissively. United up their offer to £30m plus Michael Carrick. Wenger considers it, then laughs heartily.
9. Anatomy of a transfer saga
Ferguson demands an audience, telling the cameras that he "currently has no interest in signing Fabregas" and that he's happy with the squad he's got, even if that squad still includes Gabriel Obertan. Nice use of the word 'currently.'
4. Anatomy of a transfer saga
'Exclusive!' brags the next morning's newspaper. 'United to battle Barca for Gunners maestro!' 'Forget Nasri, Ferg wants the big Gun.' And so forth. A fee of £60million is plucked from the air as Red Top Reporter goes wild with anticipation over a deal that doesn't exist. But he has quotes.
15. Anatomy of a transfer saga
Manchester United make 'absolutely their final offer of £50m' and, when that's turned down, they add another £5m for good measure.
7. Anatomy of a transfer saga
"Manchester United need to know that Cesc Fabregas is the captain of Arsenal Football Club and will not be going anywhere. Their arrogant attitude is not appreciated. He has a long term contract with this club and he loves it here," the Gunners patriarch tells Sky Sports, making things very interesting indeed.
13. Anatomy of a transfer saga
Fabregas uses the word 'flattered' 17 times in the same sentence, while insisting he's at an age where he needs to be challenging for trophies.
2. Anatomy of a transfer saga
He takes the names of five, high-profile Premier League players and writes them down on a sheet of paper. Once that's done, he picks out five teams with money to spend. These teams will invariably comprise Manchester United, AC Milan, Liverpool, Real Madrid and QPR.
6. Anatomy of a transfer saga
This is a nervous time for Red Top Reporter, who knows that his story will either be branded farcical and sink without trace, or will draw actual quotes from actual people associated with the clubs in question. Luckily, Arsene Wenger can't help himself.
17. Anatomy of a transfer saga
The Spaniard's shirt is burned in effigy in North London, while he's on a stadium tour making nice with the tea ladies. A full 27 years after the initial story was broken, he signs a seven-year deal with Sir Alex and co, while our good friend Red Top Reporter gets out his woolly hats and completes the circle of life.