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Breaking it down: 17 steps to the modern football transfer

*Disclaimer: takes no responsibility for any moves that might happen as a result of this article.

SKY SPORTS NEWS’ yellow ticker is working overtime, agent extraordinaire Barry Silkman has his phone charged up and Arsene Wenger is sticking his fingers in his ears going “lalalalala I can’t HEAR you!!!”

Yes, football’s winter sales are well and truly upon us.

But how does the modern-day transfer grow from a newsroom whisper to a screaming backpage headline? We investigate.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. It’s lucky dip time. The names and the clubs go into two separate woolly hats. Red Top Reporter picks out one name, David Silva, and one club, Manchester United, thinks to himself “…this is just the right side of crazy…” and a transfer saga is born.

4. ‘Exclusive!’ brags the next morning’s newspaper. ‘United to swoop for Silva!’ A fee of £30million is plucked from the air as Red Top Reporter goes wild with anticipation over a deal that doesn’t exist. But he has quotes.

5. 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 Etihad 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. “David loves Manchester but is frustrated with the team’s inconsistent form. A move across the city to play with Robin van Persie would be a dream come true,” says Fred.

6. 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 actual clubs in question. Roberto Mancini can’t help himself.

7. “Silva? Silva stays with us, we will never sell this player to United,” the City patriarch tells Sky before skipping off for a wash, cut and blow dry, leaving David Platt to answer any follow-up questions.

8. At United, Sir Alex takes a break from och-ayeing over the skills of Anderson to take in the quotes from Mancini. He had, of course, no intention of signing Silva but Mancini’s comments are like a red rag to a Scotsman.

9. Ferguson demands an audience, telling the cameras that he “has no interest in signing Silva, Kagawa is settling in nicely…” and that he’s happy with the squad he’s got, even if that squad still includes Nani.

10. Silva himself slaps in a transfer request, then withdraws it, then slaps it in again. Then withdraws it. Then tells his agent to see what United are offering. Then gets dizzy and falls over.

11. 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 Spaniard.

12. United make a formal offer of £20m plus Ashley Young. Mancini laughs dismissively. United up their offer to £22m plus Wayne Rooney. Mancini considers it, then laughs heartily.

13. Silva uses the word ‘flattered’ 17 times in the same sentence.

14. Mancini finally realises he’s about to lose Silva, so he rings Sky Sports News to tell Bryan Swanson how he’s never been more convinced of a player’s loyalty to the club.

15. Manchester United make ‘absolutely their final offer of £31m’ and, when that’s turned down, they add another £5m for good measure.

16. Silva is seen being driven into Old Trafford in a blacked out Mercedes. With the window down.

17. A full 27 years after the initial story was broken, he signs a seven-year deal with United. Meanwhile, our good friend Red Top Reporter gets out his pair of lucky woolly hats and completes the circle of life.

Snapshot: Mayo’s All-Star defender Ger Cafferkey braves the weather to help club fundraising drive >

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