The Out of Towners

On these, the final days of the transfer market, the clubs' sporting directors and presidents all meet at a Milan hotel to facilitate access to one another and speed up any possible deals.  Despite the existence of a hotel gift shop where the beleaguered sporting directors may purchase leather briefcases, perfect for carrying players' contracts—I know this because they did an honest to god segment on it in the news—there's not much else to do in between wheeling and dealing. So to blow off some steam, they gathered in the hotel bar last night.


At the bar sat Walter Sabatini, rubbing his forehead. While chain smoking cigarettes and downing scotch he muttered epithets about the Wolfsburg management to any and all who would listen.

At the best table in the house, Adriano Galliani, Enrico Preziosi and Marco Branca all had dinner; both Galliani and Branca played footsie with Preziosi in the middle, whodelighted with all of the attention he received—quickly gave them both whatever they wanted.

Aurelio De Laurentiis, occupying a booth in the corner, balled so hard mu'fuckers wanted to fine him.

While Lotito is a teetotaler, his expertise on fine wines is unmatched in the entire world; he spent the evening schooling the sommelier with his knowledge. (Red wines go with meat, white wines go with fish, etcetera.) Igli Tare performed his bodyguard duties as he does every night.

Pietro Lo Monaco kept mostly to himself, sipping on Fernet and coke while hovering over a stream from the Argentinean primera on his laptop.

Andrea and Diego Della Valle seized on the opportunity to settle a score with a journalist they've had trouble with, in their own peculiar way.

By the bar, Marotta was talking to his assistant. "Don't look now", he said, "play it cool. But that guy over there is the one I want, the one I'm looking at". One of his eyes looking at India and the other at America, the assistant's mistake was understandable; this explains half of Juve's transfers this summer.

Outside of the bar, in the hotel lobby, Luciano Moggi filed complaints with the hotel management that they were doing it wrong in the bar, and if they just let him in there he'd show them how it's done. The hotel staff humored him and feigned attention and interest in his complaints for a while before calling security.

Having dragged out a karaoke machine from the back room, Massimo Cellino and Maurizio Zamparini did a charming duet of Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better); they were both wrong. From the crowd, a Paris Saint-Germain emissary watched just as he's watched Zamparini all summer long.

Having received some reassuring news from France, Spain and Germany, Walter Sabatini got up from his bar stool and picked up the karaoke mic after Cellino's and Zamparini's duet. He changed a word or two around and performed a song called Franco B. Is President. When he was done, he dropped the mic and walked off the stage.