9:51pm. A cosy little Mediterranean restaurant, almost dwarfed by the stadium a few mins away. In a corner booth, lit by soft lighting and a guttering candle, Marcus sat in thought, a glass of fine red next to him. The waiter, obsequeous by his very nature, inquired as to his needs.
A long vacation without a certain Swede, thought Marcus. He waved the waiter away. He cast his mind back to a week ago…
He was in his office, when the door burst open, whipping around on it’s hinges to slam against the wall. In strutted Zlatan, resplendent in a cream linen suit. “Marcus! Buen Dia! The Zlatan graces this pigsty bearing gifts!” Marcus was worried, a gift from Zlatan was usually the equivalent of letting a woodchuck with razor-sharp teeth and a hatred of cheese run up your trouser leg..
Zlatan continued “I was at the Casino Barcelona last night, when the cards were turning against me. Lucky for the Zlatan, no cards would dare turn for too long. I continued to play and defy the Gods of chance, as is the Zlatan’s nature. The upshot of all of this is that the Zlatan owed a lot of money to some Serbian friends of mine..” Marcus twitched involutarily. Gangsters? This was all he needed… “HOWEVER!” Zlatan gestured expansively “The debt is settled! And you! You were instrumental in settling this debt!” Marcus convulsed in fear. Visions of being used as a drug mule flashed through his head. He began to curse Zlatan in German, each invective more imaginative than the last.
Zlatan paused, looked at Marcus strangely. He then began to smile, the smile of a shark spotting it’s next meal.. “Don’t think that I have promised you to do anything illegal! You will merely give my good friend Ivan Petric’s nephews a place in our academy. They’ve always wanted to be footballers!” Marcus simultaneously relaxed and groaned. This did not bode well… Zlatan tossed a buff-colored folder onto the desk. “Meet your two new youth players! Kristijan Dragojevic and Vuk Dunjic. As Ivan is their agent, expect to pay over the odds. And I *WILL* hear about it..”
“Boss! Hello!” Johnny’s voice snapped Marcus out of his reverie. Both Johnny and Bryan slid into the booth across from Marcus. “You’ve picked a cosy place to meet, boss” said Bryan. “I have the report on the new intake. Although I have nothing on two kids who just showed up yesterday.” Marcus waved away that comment and asked for the report. Bryan handed it over
“We got two players out of this intake that I believe could make a difference. Adria Hernandez, a central midfielder who can play anywhere in the attacking half. If we can train him in the Raumdeuter role, he may be what we’re lacking. Secondly, we have goalie Salim Azim. He’ll be an excellent backup for Jon Tena and, hopefully, will supplant him in the near future!”
Marcus nodded and poured the wine into three glasses. They clinked the glasses and drank in silence while the candle continued to burn low…