Shots fired - the Mirror report that Arsenal have made a £20m bid for Wayne Rooney.
How true this is, we don't know. The Daily Mail report tonight on talks with Rooney, and say that Arsenal are merely "ready" to make a bid, but they come up with the same number - £20m. Meanwhile in Mirrorland, they report that a Chelsea counter-bid will soon be winging it's way to David Moyes' desk, among the 'Congratulations on your new job' cards and the "you don't have to be a Glaswegian Presbyterian to work here, but it helps!" plaque.
Anyway, if this is true then it's highly unlikely that Rooney will stay. That's not to say he's necessarily off to Arsenal, but players in this sort of situation don't tend to stick around once formal bids come in. If they're bidding, they're doing so because they believe there's a genuine chance of getting him. And that means he'll be off.
According to reports, the scenario is this: United are sitting down for talks, but will basically demand Rooney signs a new deal and takes a wage cut. That is to say, they won't keep him if he won't sign a new deal, since he only has two years remaining on his present one, and they won't offer him the same terms again. Apparently, this isn't enough for Rooney, who at least wants to maintain his current salary.
If Arsenal, Chelsea, and anyone else are willing to pay Rooney what he's on now, and the above scenario is true, then it's absolutely certain that he's off. And more fool them. I've long been of the opinion that Rooney is a millstone around our necks, not just due to his form not justifying his wages, but also his undroppable status because of the trouble he causes when he's out of the team for five minutes. We certainly shouldn't be offering a player with alleged fitness problems a long-term contract on the same extortionate salary again, and I really can't see us doing so.
Nor should we be too bothered about who we're selling to. If we are getting rid of Rooney, it's because we've accepted that he's not worth the trouble. Yet many United fans who hold that view, when asked to consider the prospect of selling him to Chelsea, suddenly imagine him as a world-class player in his prime, who doesn't shin first-touches out of play or smoke. You can't have it both ways. If he's not worth the bother, then let Chelsea have him, and let the goals and trophies fall where they may. I'd certainly rather see them line up with a wheezing Rooney up front than a lithe Edinson Cavani.
The final point on all this, which leads me to suspect the above is true, is the old betting odds. These are often a bad way to judge transfers, but in this case they make a lot of sense. The odds on Rooney departing were maximum stake bets - very confident punters. And the last time Rooney handed in a transfer request (well, the second-last time, if you believe Alex Ferguson) the bookies were onto it well before the press were.
So, for all those reasons, I think he'll be off. Ferguson's last act, to stick the knife in and give David Moyes a clear run to sell him, may prove to have been a truly magnanimous act. Let's just hope that his replacement has the fibre to go through with it. This, it would seem, is the beginning of the end. I fully expect this bid to be rejected instantly, if it exists, but it'll be a nice ice-breaker for when those talks begin. And from there, you can guess the rest.