It's the bit about John Terry being "stale" that really sticks as far as the Mill is concerned. John Terry is stale. His skin has lost its crispness. His fingers droop. He's giving off a musty smell, and around his knees there's already a faint green fur of mould. How did this happen? A fault with the packaging? Was he not stored in a vacuum-sealed tin? Perhaps they made the common mistake of putting him in the fridge. Either way, the traditional remedy of sprinkling him with water and bunging him in the oven for 10 minutes simply won't do. This morning the latest stage of Terry's crunch-restoring, odour-banishing on-off Manchester City transfer saga has him being splashed about the place in Chelsea's new shirt, which has a zip and looks like the kind of thing you might wear to a disco called "Love Pump" or "Muscle Thrust".
"GUESS YOU'RE STAYING THEN, JT," crows the Sun, the hammer of pretension and untruth in any form. "Chelsea put their shirt on Terry to stay," says the Times, noting that the stale one will be going on the club tour of China or Mars or Mega City Two or whichever never-ending magic porridge pot it is they're off to this time.
The Sun also brings news of a "Chamakh hike jolt for Arsenal", with the story that the Gunners' latest target Marouane Chamakh is insisting Arsène Wenger and Pat Rice accompany him on a two-week walking tour of the Isle of Wight as part of his move from Bordeaux. Also, his price seems to have been bumped up to £7m plus Mikaël Silvestre. Which makes [Mill punches anxiously at its calculator buttons, has a lie down, broods for a bit, bursts into tears, then finally makes "eureka" gesture before hobbling off to run naked through streets of unpleasantly industrial King's Cross] about £7.001m. The Sun notes "Chamakh is preparing for life in North London". Cue montage of youthful French goal ace poring over selection of tiny electric cars, purchasing a pair of really tight jeans and practising talking in a loud, braying voice about this really great new Montenegrin-Samoan fusion tapas bar.
The man we're now calling "Manu" Adebayor wants "more time" before finally consummating his move to Manchester City. Maybe if they could just get to know each other a bit first. Juventus have signed Arsenal's long-term crush, laid-back guitar-strumming Fiorentina midfielder Felipe Melo. Everton are "vying" with the Reals of Mallorca and Zaragoza for Espanyol defender Marc Torrejón. And the voices inside Phil Brown's great pink flapping Morrissey's-hearing-aid earpiece are telling him to spend £5m of real money on Bobby Zamora.
In the Daily Mail shrugging, strolling beanpole one-season-wonder Adebayor has now been offered to Manchester United. Spurs are hoping their unattractively complicated and stingy offer to pay in "staggered instalments" for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will somehow appear more attractive than Stuttgart's straight-up £16m with no questions asked and we'll even throw in a clingfilm-wrapped welcome basket containing some slightly iffy Devon fudge and a bottle of bad Australian wine. Steve Bruce will finally get his great, doughy, sweaty hands on the lean and spindly shanks of Peter Crouch after Portsmouth accepted his £12m bid. Crouch will now hold "talks", sign, look silly in vertical stripes, occasionally score a flailing overhead kick, miss a few easy headers, still get picked in every England squad and appear in swimming trunks in your tabloid newspaper at least once a week because he's standing next to his girlfriend. And Rangers midfielder Barry Ferguson is "discussing personal terms with Birmingham", all the while secretly making V-signs under the table and doing an insulting "du-uh" face whenever they're not looking.
In the Mirror South Korean winger Lee Chung-yong could be off to Bolton, along with Zat Knight and louche, eyeliner-sporting, art-rock peacock "Bryan" Ferrie Bodde of Swansea. Gary Megson is conducing negotiations from his training camp in Austria, presumably while dressed in skin-tight yellow lederhosen and a tank top. Big "Sam" Allardyce has decided to try something new by bringing in a very tall and muscular striker. Current favourites include: Hightower from the Police Academy films, a hat stand and hulking perennial transfer window favourite Nikola Zigic, available for £6m from Valencia. And Manchester City have "made a surprise move for David Bentley" after closing their eyes and randomly jabbing a pencil down on a page in the current directory of overpriced but potentially available disappointing English players.
Back in the Times Aston Villa are on the brink of signing Sylvain Distin, who used to be good but then got spooked by standing next to Sol Campbell every week. Liverpool are "interested" in Albacete's Belgian midfielder Ritchie Kitoko, who might get a couple of games in the Carling Cup before being loaned to a team in Spain. And Blackburn have been offered the Senegal and Nantes midfielder Guirane N'Daw, who has a nice name, but one that's quite hard to say five times really quickly.
According to the Spanish newspaper Sport, via Goal.com, David Villa is willing to take a pay cut to go to Barcelona. But he will still get £4m a year. So it's all right. There's no need to make him a packed lunch or anything. And Inter may lavish several millions on Corinthians' Andre Santos, with smooth B-list soul crooner Maxwell all set to hook it in the other direction to the Camp Nou.