Like many other things, there's a certain scale that can be applied to off-season transfer scuttlebutt. "Completely Unfounded" is one one end, with "Slightly Informed" a notch above it. "Inside Information" is the next step right before "Imminent Move" which is followed by the holy grail of "HEY GUYS THIS DEAL IS TOTALLY HAPPENING, LIKE, ANY SECOND, BRO."
That brings us to the recent Thierry Henry to Arsenal talks. Rarely does a rumor move so quickly and so fluidly through the stages, taking less than a month from "just training" to "offer extended."
The rumblings started when Henry went to North London to train with the team during the Red Bulls' off-season - the "Completely Unfounded" stage. They grew a bit after Everton boss David Moyes extended a verbal offer to the striker on the 12th. It'll never be known - with Everton's acquisition of the LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan - how serious Moyes offer was, but that bumped the rumor into "Slightly Informed" mode, if only because of the brevity of Donovan's loan four days after Moyes spoke to Henry. On the 17th Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said, rather awkwardly, that he hadn't "investigated the deal," but didn't completely rule a loan move out, nudging the deal closer to the "Inside Information" stage.
Heading into last weekend Wenger's feelings on an Henry return to the Emirates were, well, murkier than his Dec. 17 statements. On Dec. 23 Wenger told the press regarding the possible loan "That's why I have Christmas Day off - I have to think about that ... Short-term is ideal for us, but I haven't made any inquiry yet. Thierry is not here at the moment." The press took it to mean, as per Arsenal's official site, that he's going to take his time with an Henry deal or that, according to the AP, the deal is really just a Christmas away.
This is called the "Imminent Move" stage.
And now, just an hour ago, the Daily Mail is reporting the club has extended a two month loan deal to Henry, moving the rumor into "HEY GUYS THIS DEAL IS TOTALLY HAPPENING, LIKE, ANY SECOND, BRO" territory, thus completing the cycle.
And there you have it. The Five Stages of a Transfer. Whether or not Arsenal confirms the deal remains to be seen, but in just a few short weeks, you've seen conjecture turn into kind-of, sort-of fact.