Not long now. Having spent the thick end of £100m drafting in a dizzying array of the best footballing talent that money can buy and West Ham midfielder Luis Jiménez, the Rumour Mill has finally assembled its fantasy football squad for the forthcoming season. With just one sleep to go until the Premier League kicks off, now is the time for relentless, completely unnecessary fretting and tinkering. How many left-wingers is too many? Is our team's name amusing enough? Pink and white stripes or hoops? One of the listeners to our podcast was good enough to set up a Football Weekly fantasy league for the forthcoming season, so feel free to fritter away your Friday getting involved here (you'll need this code: 178628-47553). All are welcome – the more the merrier.
Meanwhile back in what passes for the reality of the Premier League, The Sun reveals that Sir Alex Ferguson sent his chief scouts to watch the "£30m-rated Argie hitman" Sergio Agüero during the week. Although this conjures up images of grown men wearing beige knee-length shorts, shirts complete with firewood-collecting proficiency badges and neckerchiefs fastened with woggles making notes on the technique of an unshaven South American assassin hunkered behind a window in a bell tower, the truth is less surreal. Fergie's spies watched the man they call Kun score in Argentina's 3-2 midweek win over Russia and probably concluded what the dogs on the street have been barking for years: yes, the boy's a bit special and yes, it's unfair to presume that he only gets picked for his country because he's sleeping with the manager's daughter.
The Everton defender Joleon Lescott is definitely not going to Manchester City, although that state of affairs may have changed by the time you reach the end of this sentence. Well? It's inevitable, isn't it? Not least because Mark Hughes has taken to standing outside Goodison Park holding a big bundle of giant cue-cards with increasingly large numbers written on them and will keep peeling them off one at a time, like Bob Dylan in the video for Subterranean Homesick Blues, until David Moyes finally caves in. Moyes may relent sooner rather than later (well, a Rumour Mill can dream), not least if Newcastle accept his £8m bid for Steven Taylor, who would go some way towards filling the Lescott-shaped hole that will almost certainly be left in the Everton defence and Goodison Park exit door once the "wantaway" defender is given permission to move to Eastlands.
Taylor isn't the only Newcastle player set to leave the club before the transfer window in the coming days, as both Wolves and Fulham have acknowledged their need for an injury-prone winger who's not quite as good as he used to be and are courting Damien Duff accordingly. Should the Irishman end up at Craven Cottage, he could find himself pinging balls on to the head of his former Newcastle team-mate Mark Viduka, assuming Fulham's physio allows them to play Pro-Evo in the treatment room. Meanwhile at Hull City, Phil Brown is courting the £12m-rated Real Madrid striker Alvaro Negredo. "There are times when you think it's 95% certain and then something happens and it's 50-50 again," said Brown of his forays into the transfer market. Translation: "There are times when you think it's 95% and then the player in question arrives in Hull and sees what it's like."
The Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martínez won't let a minor triviality such as the heart problem that turned up in Mohamed Diame's medical preclude him from signing the French midfielder from from Spanish side Rayo Vallecano, while in Sunderland Steve Bruce is considering a move for the bookish Arsenal centre-half Philippe Senderos.
Meanwhile in Spain, Real Madrid are considering offering £30m and a job-lot of Dutchmen (well, any two from Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben) to Bayern Munich in exchange for Franck Ribéry, while closer to home, the Reading manager Brendan Rodgers is accosting passers-by on the street to tell them that Mick McCarthy's Wolves are still "in talks" with midfielder James Harper, presumably about a move to Molineux ... although it may be about amusing monikers and formations for their fantasy football teams.