August. Do we love it for bringing football back into our lives or do we hate it, for giving us what has become known as "the protracted transfer saga?"
Every summer has at least one standout contender for the most irritating ongoing piece of speculation. Last year it was Robert Lewandowski's will-he, won’t-he potential move from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich and Gareth Bale's drawn-out switch from the Premier League to La Liga.
These rumours are everywhere. There’s no getting away from them. They are what we cling on to when the season is over, they eased our tears when the World Cup ended, and when pre-season won't cut it (and—let's be honest—it doesn't), we debate who’s going where until we are blue in the face.
Then the season kicks off and we would do anything, ANYTHING, to make them stop.
Like any transfer window, summer 2014 has been awash with speculation—its flow of stories lubricated by the World Cup. Standing head and shoulders above everyone else, however, is Juventus' Arturo Vidal.
The Chilean international has been linked, mooted and rumoured to be on his way to Manchester United countless times. Hints have been dropped, eyes have been "made" and, it seems, all parties are still remaining "coy."
This particular rumour can already be filed under irritating and it shows no sign of slowing down.
Let's take a look at how the speculation has unfolded. In June, the 27-year-old was reportedly keen on joining United, rather than Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, claimed James Dickenson in the Express.
By July, there were reports coming out of Vidal's camp, in which the midfielder appeared to be keeping his options open. He told La Tercera (h/t FourFourTwo):
I've heard about the rumours, but I haven't spoken more about this subject. I'm enjoying my holidays, and when I return to Italy I'll see what happens. I'm very calm, but anyone would love to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Elsewhere, Skysports.com reported that Vidal (speaking with Sky Italia) had confirmed that he would not be joining United and was waiting for talks with Juve.
Days later and Ben Curtis of the Mirror, reckoned that Massimiliano Allegri's side were "bracing themselves" for a £48 million offer from Old Trafford. Curtis wrote (based on reports originating in Gazetta dello Sport) that: "A huge contract from the club could tempt the 27-year-old midfielder."
Next up were stories coming from Chilean newspaper El Mercurio that seemed to suggest that Vidal had verbally agreed to join Van Gaal's side (h/t James Dickenson in the Express).
Still with us?
It's now August, and El Mercurio (h/t BeINSports) are back, reporting that Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli has revealed that United do not want to sign Vidal because of a knee injury.
And Anthony Chapman, of the Express, suggests that Bayern Munich are ready to "muscle in" on United's interest in Vidal. Whereas Ben Jefferson, also of the Express, reported that Juve are stalling on the deal unless United swap Javier Hernandez and Nani and £38.5 million in return for their target.
The most recent rumblings, as reported by Liam Prenderville in the Mirror, insist that Vidal "has again failed to rule out a move to Manchester United this summer."
As United fans contemplate another underwhelming summer in the transfer market, the Vidal rumours—once exciting—are now nothing but an annoyance.
They have gone on for far too long, and they serve as a stark reminder of days gone by when low-key, successful deals were orchestrated under former chief executive David Gill and manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who wrapped things up, largely, without fuss.
Irksome too, these rumours must be for Juventus fans who—until September 1—are faced with the idea that they might lose one of their best players.
Prepare yourselves for a tidal wave of Vidal-to-Old Trafford stories over the next 13 days. They are going to be irritating. They are going to be plentiful. They are not going anywhere.