As a grouchy, gum-chewing Scot once said, "football, bloody hell." The sport really is a mad one, forever providing those that follow it with reasons to feel shocked and dazed by the wonder of it all.
Why if it's not the slick, eye-stretching beauty of Barcelona's passing play then it's the news that Jermain Defoe wants to build a neon-lit nightclub on the grounds of his Essex mansion. When oh when will it all end?
The latest source of amazement is Gareth Bale. Exactly one year ago the monkey-faced, speedy son of a gun was about to start his 17th game in succession for Tottenham Hotspur; a 3-1 win over Fulham in the FA Cup. It was a remarkable run for a player who had previously been a walking jink for Harry Redknapp's men, but still did not hint at what was to come for the 21-year-old – a meteoric rise to fame that has seen him linked with a £40m move to all manner of clubs, most notably Internazionale and Chelsea, and, today, being the focus of a whopping back page exclusive in The Sun.
"Bale KO" screams the headline on page 68 of the breast-loving tabloid, followed by the story that the winger is out of Saturday's Euro2012 qualifier between Wales and England with a hamstring injury and has returned to Spurs for an assessment of the strain.
There is even a mention of the story on the front of the paper, the front I ask you – who could have imagined that 12 months ago, when Bale was merely a fleet-footed upstart with dreamy aspirations of being the next Benoit Assou-Ekotto or Niko Kranjcar? Well whose on top now? Gareth is, that's who.
News of Bale's injury – which is expected to be confirmed by the Wales manager, Gary Speed, today – is a scoop for the Sun but a stonking pain in the rear for today's other papers, most of which have an article focusing on the threat he poses to England on Saturday. Top of the 'D'oh!' list is The Mirror, who have dedicated two pages to an 'exclusive interview' with the player. For them, Bale's reputation as a walking bad omen continues.
Thankfully for The Mill, this morning's Bale bonanza has not obliterated the space this country's press dedicates to rumour. Meatiest of all is the less-than-original news that Liverpool are preparing to tussle with Manchester United for the signature of Ashley Young this summer. Kenny Dalglish failed to sign the 25-year-old in January, but with the winger refusing to sign a contract extension at Aston Villa it appears increasingly likely that he will move on, with Anfield or Old Trafford his most likely destination. The fee is predicted to reach £20m.
Liverpool also apparently want Gary Cahill, Charlie Adam and England's latest candidate for the role of one-cap wonder, Matt Jarvis.
Cahill is also wanted by Arsenal and, more intriguingly, Bayern Munich, with both clubs seemingly prepared to pay £18m for the Bolton defender.
If they fail with Young, United could focus all their energies on signing Charlton's Carl Jenkinson. The highly-rated 17-year-old centre-back has apparently told the London club that he wants to leave at the end of the season, when his contract expires.
Another tyro seemingly on his way to the Premier League is Southampton's forever spoken about forward Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Having stoked interest on Merseyside and Manchester, the 17-year-old is now on the radar of Spurs.
Wait, what's this, Seedorf is on his way to Leicester? Oh, hang on, it not Clarence but instead Stefano, the 28-year-old cousin of the legendary Dutch midfielder. He currently plays for Monza in Italy and is available for £450,000, with Leeds also keen to sign the big-named/small-time player.
Elsewhere, Greg Halford wants to end his Wolves "nightmare" by joining Portsmouth, while 30-year-old defender David Wright is expected to leave Crystal Palace for Ipswich Town.
All of this, though, means nothing in the light of Bale's dodgy hamstring. Who would have thunked it?
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