24 July 2015

Benzema reaches out to Giroud as transfer-talk heats up...

STADE DE FRANCE, Saint-Denis, France—Les Bleus had just finished another arduous training session under Deschamps, and the lads were cooling off, undressing, and preparing to faire la douche. Benzema, having toweled off, glanced over at Giroud, his compatriot and competitor, and sensed an opportunity for a valuable tête-à-tête. After all, there had been much talk of Benzema leaving Real Madrid to join Arsenal, and who better to question on the matter than Giroud? After all, he'd just completed his third season with the club, knew Arsène, and could explain what it is like to play for such a manager. Tentatively at first, sensitive to the conflicts of interests inherent in the moment, Karim approached...

It is here, Karim, when we must feign la fraternité...
     Mentally, he rehearsed: How best to broach the subject? Shall I confront this moment head-on, I wonder, or should I tip-toe? He must after all know my intentions. We hardly speak of anything. Merde! Why must these moments be so...so...existential? Sartre would admire us, I'm sure.
    "Ollie?" There was no response. Karim coughed a bit and said a second time, this time a bit louder, "Olivier?"
     Giroud, fresh from the shower, towel wrapped seductively low around his hips, just high enough to cover his nether-regions but also just low enough to invite imaginations, paused. Dramatically, but not too dramatically. Casually, but not too casually, he adjusted the know in his towel while his other hand brushed through his hair, which was somehow carefullly coiffed despite his just-then emerging from the shower.
     "K-Benz. The Benz-imator. How's it hanging?"
     Benzema was briefly awestruck as he took in the sight and managed, somehow, to resist the urge to grate cheese on those abs. He averted his eyes.
     "OG. You played well tonight, I must admit."
     At this, Giroud grinned, coyly tucking his chin towards his chest, raising one eyebrow seductively. "Thank you, K. I aim to please, after all."
     "Yes." Benzema paused, meaningfully. "Ollie, I need to ask you about this situation."
     "Situation?" Giroud looked askance. "What situation is it of which you speak?"
     "Arsenal."
     "Ah, yes. Arsenal. The Arsenal. It is a very good situation, I must say."
     "How is this?"
     "You see, I play very hard. I do. However, it is not quite so important that I do well because these Gooners, they compare everything to Thierry. Against him, no one can compare. Everyone falls short. Therefore, I am good enough. After all, I am French, and I am so devastatingly handsome that even the married men, they drool and post shirtless pictures of me on reddit."
     "What is reddit?"
     "Nevermind that, now. The important thing here is that we get to the part where you ask me how you get to play for Arsenal. The Arsenal."
     Benzema paused. "Je ne sais pas, Olivier. You and I, we already compete for France, and Didier, he sometimes prefers you even when I score and pass and assist more than—"
     "S'il vous plaît!" Giroud could barely contain his laughter. "For you, you pass to Ronaldo and Bale, they pass to you, and someone scores again and again and again against Granada or Cordoba. 100 goals your club scores every year. Me? I play against Stoke and Chelsea and West Brom, they keep eight or nine in the box and dare us to score. All the time, there is tugging and grabbing and elbowing but no whistles, no bookings."
     "Could you not dive? It is what we do in Spain..."
     At this, Giroud glared. "Unless you play for Chelsea or Man U, the referee, he does not call. If you bleed, maybe he warns the player. Maybe. It is better, then, that you keep your feet. Even if you are exhausted, injured, you play."
     Benzema's eyes widened, his jaw dropped.
     "Yes. This is true. Do not go down even if you are hurt."
     Benzema studied his boots.
     "What is it, K? You seem, I don't know, intimidated."
     Benzema looked up. "I want to come to Arsenal, Ollie. But I don't know if I can. Life at Real is so...so easy. From what you say, it is hard at Arsenal. I don't know if—"
     "If you doubt yourself, stay where life is easy. If you come to Arsenal, we will have to fight. You and I, we will fight to play. Whoever wins, he will then fight Shawcross and Terry and Olsson and Fellaini, they will elbow and gouge and worse. The referee, he will wave play on, and you must play on. Can you do this?"
     Benzema looked doubtful.
     "Karim. Can you fight? Will you fight?"
     Benzema studied his boots...