SOCCER - A.Klagenfurt vs Southampton, test match KLAGENFURT,AUSTRIA,18.JUL.22 - SOCCER - ADMIRAL Bundesliga, Premier League, SK Austria Klagenfurt vs FC Southampton, test match. Image shows a ball. PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxAUTxSUIxSWE GEPAxpictures/xFlorianxMori

Those days keep ticking away and the summer transfer window is now less than two weeks from shutting. In the old days, of course, we used to call it the start of the new football season – in 2019, we refer to the Premier League transfer window slamming shut and Gareth Bale being stuck in Madrid for another six months at least.

The thing is, Real Madrid vetoing Bale’s proposed move to China has many knock-on effects. As well as shattering Gareth’s dream to head to the Far East and help the Chinese government finally make progress towards being a global player (not to mention the extra £1m a week he was going to get, allegedly), the Madrid board have caused a reverse domino effect in the Premier League.

If Bale stays under the perma-scowl of Zizou then there is no chance that Paul Pogba is going to get his wish and vanish from the Manchester United midfield like, well, he has been doing most of his United career.

And if Pogba is staying at United, what does that mean for Lazio giant Sergej Milinković-Savić? He won’t be heading to Old Trafford – that’s what. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may even become reluctant to pursue Sean Longstaff any further if Pogba is to be sulking his way through 90 minutes every week next season.

And there being no Spanish Bale-out means that Christian Eriksen is also looking more and more likely to remain a Tottenham Hotspur player where he can continue to whack his corner kicks on to the forehead of the first man. He might well be joined by Real Betis schemer Giovanni Lo Celso but, as you know, we have been saying that all summer.

Arsenal were gently linked to Bale right at the start of the summer until someone leaked the fact they only had £45m to spend and that wouldn’t really cover Bale’s ponytail. But, in a cunning twist, it looks like the Gooners have been having us all on when it comes to the state of their finances.

Not only have they chucked Real £15m for a year of Dani Ceballos, they’ve shelled out £27m for William Saliba – a player they don’t even want this season as they’ve sent him back to France to continue his footballing education. Talk about flashing the cash. And they are not done yet – reports suggest that flying winger Nicolas Pepe is the subject of a £72m bid and the deal could be done even before you read this. Crazy. And they are still in for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney. They really are!

When you throw in the fact that Unai Emery has had a sensible haircut and Mezut Ozil has employed Sead Kolasanic as his personal bodyguard, things are looking A-OK at the Emirates. They’ve even picked the kids in pre-season, apparently. And they’ve been good – which won’t matter a jot when they all end up being back in the U23s because Emery’s bought all these new players.

Back up at Old Trafford, there’s still talk of United finding someone daft enough to take Romelu Lukaku off their hands. Inter are still believed to be keen but are not as keen to spend £75m on him. Juventus have a cunning plan though, and it involves Pablo Dybala heading in the opposite direction with a bit of cash in an envelope addressed to Mr Ed. That should do it. Ronaldo must be delighted at the prospect of trying to find the space that Lukaku might vacate at some point.

The Harry Maguire saga rumbles on with no obvious conclusion in sight. United have now lost Eric Bailly to another injury but even that hasn’t persuaded Woodward to make the move happen. Axel Tuanzebe though, Axel Tuanzebe.

Chelsea and Everton are both taking Arsenal’s pursuit of Pepe as a sign that they are no longer keen on Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha having sufficiently messed with the player’s head over the summer. Everton are hoping that Zaha is that confused that he might just sign on the dotted line completely forgetting that Everton haven’t played Champions League football since 2005. Chelsea are hoping he is so down in the dumps that he’ll not notice that Chelsea cannot technically take him to Stamford Bridge until next summer but are prepared to agree a deal now just because the transfer department are a bit bored and want to keep their hand in.

Newcastle fans were treated to a rare treat the other day – an interview with Mike Ashley. Suddenly, local reporters who have never asked a decent question in their life were strutting around as if they were Jeremy Paxman. It wasn’t a good look. Or a good interview for that matter…