Bradley called the hospital at least three times a day to check on his mum’s situation. He had spoken to her doctor who was arranging for her to go to a top clinic once she was well enough to be moved. That could take a few days, he told him, but it was one of the best facilities in the country, but it wouldn’t be cheap. Bradley told him not to worry about the costs, he would cover them for however long it took to make her better.
He also kept in contact with Sam more frequently than he had been. Sam had given Bradley a right mouthful on the night it happened and partly blamed him for their mum’s problems, which was a bit unfair but it was said in the heat of the moment when we all tend to say things we later regret. Their dad also got a rocket from Sam when he did bother to call and enquire as to his ex-wife’s condition. Brian had no right to be that concerned as they were divorced due to her infidelity and he hadn’t got around to forgiving her just yet. Anyhow, he couldn’t just drop everything and fly half way around the world to see her, she would probably tell him where to go knowing her.
So, things were to settle down on that front, which just left Bradley with the small matter of meeting Barcelona’s directors and management with regards to a possible move to the Nou Camp.
Archie had arrived the day after Bradley met with Alvaro Gonzalez-Torre and Bradley had insisted on him staying at their villa. It was the least he could do if Archie was going to negotiate with arguably the biggest club in the world. He needed to be on top form as he knew that in the world of superstar football agents, Archie wasn’t one of the elite. In fact, he was way out of his depth but he promised to do what was right for Bradley.
He took on board that Bradley didn’t actually want to leave Arsenal, or join Barcelona for that matter, which gave Archie the advantage of being able to say ‘not interested’ to Barcelona. He wasn’t desperate to see Bradley move, even though his fee alone would set him up for life.
They spent most of the Wednesday discussing and preparing for the meeting and by the end of the day they had reached an agreement on what it would take to lure Bradley away. He had also phoned his manager, Silvio who was not very pleased, but he had been told not to get involved by the board. He had wished Bradley good luck with the negotiations, but made it clear that he would be happy if talks broke down and he reported back to the Emirates after the summer.
So far, there had been no leak to the press and no rumours other than the usual unfounded ones that go around during close season. That was good, as it wouldn’t jeopardise the deal. Once they were both prepared for their guests the next day, they celebrated with a barbeque on the terrace and some Champagne that Archie had bought at the airport, just in case. He had even brought out some Ginger Beer for Bradley as he knew it wasn’t readily available in Mijas. The three of them sat by the pool watching the sun go down and feeling in a very relaxed frame of mind. They couldn’t wait for the meeting.
Right on time, the Barcelona contingent arrived at Bradley’s villa and Jessie showed them into the lounge where Archie and Bradley were standing waiting for their appearance. After all the introductions were done, they made small talk for a few minutes while Jessie brewed up some coffee for their guests, and tea for Bradley. She was already beginning to feel like Bradley’s wife and she liked it. If her dad could see them all now, she thought. He would have one heck of a story to relate to his fares.
There were three representatives from Barcelona, their lawyer Raul Jiminez, a director, Hector Ortega and their new manager, Oscar Fuentes who had only just been appointed after leaving his role as Argentina’s manager. Bradley had shaken hands briefly with Sr Fuentes when Scotland played Argentina in that ill-tempered World Cup match and he wasn’t pleased to see that he could be his new manager. Oscar Fuentes could feel the animosity coming from Bradley which led him to be concerned about pulling this deal off.
The already strained atmosphere was about to get much worse as Raul Jiminez laid a pile of papers on the lounge table and put his reading glasses on. Phones were switched off as they didn’t want any distractions during the negotiations. Bradley explained about his mother being in hospital and he would rather leave his phone on in case something happened, but Sr Jiminez was insistent. No phones.
Hector Ortega opened the dialogue explaining how Barcelona were the biggest club in the world with hundreds of thousands of fans around the world and how Bradley was lucky enough to be of sufficient interest to the club. He then went on to sell Barcelona the city, which Bradley already liked, the pleasant all year round weather and lifestyle, and how Bradley could become part of the most successful side in football history should he sign.
Bradley tried to interrupt a couple of times; he wanted to point out that Arsenal were currently the best club in Europe after the season they had, and he wanted to express his dissatisfaction at the treatment they had dished out to him recently and the fact that he got the same treatment from Sr Fuentes’ side when they played Argentina. He wasn’t allowed to express his views; neither was Archie, as the Barcelona contingent carried on ignoring them and waved away their protests dismissively.
Finally, they got down to the financial side of the meeting. They were prepared to make Bradley the highest paid member of the team with a basic of €200,000 per week. With goal and appearance bonuses, plus extra bonuses for winning trophies, he could be earning over €20 million per annum. They felt that this was a most attractive offer and they didn’t see any reason why Bradley or Archie should turn it down, especially when they made a point of offering Archie €2.5 million as a one-off agent’s payment which made Archie’s eyes light up.
Bradley looked at the numbers and thought it was a good offer. Should they try for more money? Somehow, it wasn’t about the money on offer, so there wouldn’t be much point. Deep down, Bradley didn’t like the idea, no matter how much they offered. Apparently, an offer of €150 million had already been accepted by Arsenal, so they wouldn’t be too happy if he turned it down. Everything was stacking up and pressurising him to sign for Barcelona, yet there were nagging doubts and as this was such a big decision, he wanted some time alone to think about it.
Jiminez and Ortega couldn’t believe their ears. He was actually thinking about it? What was there to think about? It was a fantastic offer to play for a fantastic club. As far as they could see, there was no downside for him.
Bradley asked for some time with Jessie and Archie so they could discuss the offer and followed Archie into the kitchen where Jessie was sitting reading a magazine she had picked up at the airport sipping coffee.
‘Well? How’s it going? Are you going to move to Spain?’ Jessie asked.
‘It’s not as easy as that, Jess. It’s a great offer, but I’m not sure I want to play for them, or their new manager. Something is telling me not to sign.’ Bradley replied.
‘Look Bradley, I know this deal is going to make me a lot of money, and ordinarily I would say bite their hand off, but if you’re not happy with this then I think you ought to tell them no.’ Archie said. ‘For what it’s worth, I think Ortega and Jiminez are a couple of fannies, but as for Fuentes, I think he could be good for you if you can get over the Argentina game. Let’s face it, it’s not going to be the last time you get some over-physical treatment on the pitch, is it? You can’t go through your career thinking what might have been if you hadn’t been such a wimp.’ He added.
Archie’s words hit Bradley hard. Maybe he was right; maybe he was being a bit soft. He respected Archie’s views immensely and it helped him make a decision.
’Do you think we could squeeze any more out of them? Bradley asked Archie.
‘Well, it’s already a pretty good offer. A very good offer, in fact. I’m not sure how much higher they will go, but it’s worth a try.’ Archie told him.
‘What do you think, Jess? Would you be happy moving to Barcelona? I’m not doing anything until I know what your views are.’ Bradley asked.
‘I think it’s quite exciting, to be honest. Are you asking me to move in with you then? I’m happy if you’re happy with it.’ She assured him.
‘Right then, Archie, let’s go and sign up.’
The three of them walked back into the lounge looking sternly at the Barcelona representatives, making them think they had failed.
They sat down and Bradley looked at Sr Ortega.
Archie was the first to speak.
‘Okay, my client likes what you have offered and he is interested. However, he was hoping for a better basic salary, so if there is any movement on that front, we should sort that out now.’
Sr Ortega looked at his colleagues with a wry smile on his face.
‘That is very good, Archie. I was expecting you to ask for more money so I think that it is best we wrap this up as amicably as possible. We are willing to increase the basic to €250,000 per week, and that is our final offer.’
Jessie almost fainted when she heard the numbers. It was a ridiculous salary and she thought Bradley would be daft to turn down this offer.
‘Agreed. Let’s see the contract offer and we will go through it before signing.’ Archie said confidently.
The following three hours were spent going through the contract, querying the small print and verifying the numbers, before they finally reached an agreement that was satisfactory for all parties. Archie also asked for a better commission for himself, just to try it on. It worked; he managed to negotiate a payment of €5 million which he was delighted with. He knew he wasn’t big league when it came to being a football agent and they could have told him no, but he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. It had paid off handsomely.
Finally, everything was signed and it was left to Barcelona to handle the press release and everything else while Bradley enjoyed the rest of his holiday. He wasn’t to speak to anybody else about the move unless Barcelona told him otherwise. Not even family. They left Bradley’s villa after more shaking of hands and as the front door closed, Bradley looked at Jessie and Archie standing in the hall and smiled.
He was about to arrive at the big time. His life would never be the same again.