Tesco Express, 10:41pm. You’ve timed your arrival with meticulous precision – 19 minutes before closing, one minute after they’ve plastered on the final batch of reduced stickers. It’s bargain nirvana.
All day long you’ve observed with smug amusement as the other mugs have entered this store during traditional shopping hours and queued up to pay top dollar for a multi-pack of yoghurt. Their loss is your gain. It is peaceful now, and the rich scent of cut-price produce infuses the cool synthetic air.
With purpose and a tingling sense of anticipation, you stride towards the reduced section, an empty trolley gliding ahead of you. You turn gaily into aisle 11, only to stop with a horrible jolt. A huge throng of shoppers is gathered in your spot – clamouring, grabbing and grappling.
Bewildered, you force your way through the melee to reach the coveted items approaching their sell-by date, but you are aghast to find that most have already gone. You reach desperately for the first thing you see – a dubious microwavable lasagne, its yellow sticker glimmering in the dazzling light.
You check the reduction – and it chills you to your very soul. The sticker on this lasagne does not show a price drop; it shows a price INCREASE.
You grasp at other random items in a panic, but they are the same. The prices have all been marked up – sometimes by several hundred percent. You quickly realise with horror that the reduced price section is gone – and it has been replaced by the increased price section.
But no one is going home. Because there is nothing else left, and people need to eat. Your body now convulsing with sobs, you reach with resignation for the lasagne…
And this, in a nutshell, is pretty much exactly how every Premier League manager feels today.
Still reading? Good, let’s talk about transfer deadline day.
Alexis out, Draxler in
Nowhere is that sense of sad resignation felt more keenly than Arsenal, where the departure of Alexis Sanchez increasingly looms. The Telegraph says Manchester City have sent a delegation to Chile “in anticipation of finalising a deal” for the forward, who would cost around £70m.
But the Gunners won’t let Alexis leave unless they can find a replacement, and this has led Arsene Wenger to an old friend, Julian Draxler.
The Mirror reports that Wenger is “scrambling” to seal a last-gasp swoop for the Paris Saint-Germain winger – a long-time Gunners target who has never previously shown much desire to move to the Emirates. Hopefully he’s been impressed with their recent work.
A price tag for the German is not mentioned, although the Mirror points out that PSG “need to balance their books”, which is something of an understatement.
Liverpool and Chelsea splash the cash
In anticipation of Philippe Coutinho’s proposed £148.5m move to Barcelona, Liverpool are also planning to spend some big dough very quickly.
As well as signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the Times says the Reds still hope to add Virgil van Dijk and Thomas Lemar to their squad today in a “£175m spree”. The Express suggests Monaco winger Lemar could cost £92m on his own. Ha.
It makes Chelsea’s planned £85m spree, detailed in the Telegraph, look miserly by comparison – something that is sure to annoy Antonio Conte. Having been snubbed by the Ox, the Blues are reportedly lining up Danny Drinkwater (£35m), Ross Barkley (£35m) and Fernando Llorente (£15m).
Meanwhile Diego Costa’s transfer window will end, fittingly, in farce. The Express says the Spanish Brazilian’s £49m move to Atletico Madrid has “hit a snag” because the striker still owes Chelsea £600,000 in fines and he is refusing to come back to London to pay it before he leaves. Doesn’t he have online banking?
The Blues could offload Michy Batshuayi too, with the Express claiming Everton are “seriously” interested in snapping up the £33m striker. The Toffees are also keen on another out-of-sorts Belgian, Thomas Vermaelen, who the Liverpool Echo says will move from Barcelona to Goodison Park on loan.
Man Utd may be sitting smugly atop the Premier League table, but they are getting involved too. As well as making a “last-gasp enquiry” for Gareth Bale, the Star says the Red Devils have also offered £50m for his Real Madrid team-mate Marco Asensio. They won’t sign either player though, obviously.
West Ham’s apparent failure to land top target William Carvalho has prompted them to pursue loan moves for various other midfielders, such as Barcelona’s Andre Gomes, who is also wanted by Tottenham (Telegraph) and Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, who does not appear to be wanted by anyone (Sun).
Showing even greater levels of desperation are Crystal Palace, who the Sun says are prepared to shell out £23m for Man City flop Eliaqium Mangala after having a £25m bid for Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho rejected.
Poor old Riyad Mahrez is still playing for Leicester, but not for long. L’Equipe offers the winger hope with its claim that Barcelona, Chelsea and Tottenham will all try to sign him today, although in reality he’ll probably move to Roma (Sun).
Elsewhere, non-scoring Tottenham striker Vincent Janssen is in line for a move to Stoke City (Mirror), Swansea are on the brink of snapping up Renato Sanches from Bayern Munich on loan (Guardian) and Arsenal have emerged as “favourites” to beat Man City to the signing of Jonny Evans, with West Brom continuing to demand £30m for the defender (Star). Come on guys, can’t you just do a deal for £29.9m? A teensy reduction? A little bargain? Please?