“It’s just down here, Manzanares meeting room, Terminal Two,” Kevin said, rushing hurriedly as he looked at the building layout that Real Madrid’s administration team had sent him via email.
Conor and Chloé tried to fit in as normal arrivals, wearing sunglasses, a baseball cap and basic clothing but Kevin’s suit and tie didn’t really help disguise the fact that something big in the football world was about to occur right on the doorstep of the Spanish capital.
As they reached the meeting room destination a receptionist had to take all three of their names to be allowed through security and into the Manzanares room. Once verified and accepted, Kevin led the way.
Kevin was the first into the room and thus the first to greet the Madrid executives meanwhile Conor and Chloé lagged five seconds behind. The couple both switched off their mobile phones upon entering.
The room catered for fourteen people but was adjusted for the eight that were attending. On the Madrid side, Conor only really recognized the face of the club president Rubén Alcaraz who had always been in the media since succeeding Florentino Pérez almost ten years ago.
“Mister McDonald, a pleasure to meet with you today. May I say, very unlucky with the Final – terrible business, especially losing to them
!” Alcaraz said, shaking Conor’s hand before greeting Chloé shortly after.
Once the pleasantries had ended, it was Kevin who was the man who initiated the business chat after everybody helped themselves to a glass of water each. Introductions were given to all the attending directors from Madrid as well as the woman who was recording the meeting.
“So, Conor, why the desire to leave Bordeaux after such successes this season?” Alcaraz asked.
“A lack of ambition from up above. I’m sure you’re all well-tuned with my achievements in France, particularly more recently. We had a meeting not too long ago, before my holiday to the Spanish coast, they essentially told me that there’s no money in the bank,” Conor said with a hint of bitterness as he recalled the meeting with DaGrosa and Longuépée.
There were long discussions about money, publicity and all sorts of jargon before Alcaraz admitted: “Conor, you are Real Madrid’s number one target to take over. Not a single trophy in over two years at this club has taken its toll. The supporters are disenfranchised. We had to sack our manager for the first time in well over a decade.
“We know that you are a winner, everybody has seen that. I recall your Europa League win with Cobh as the first time that I had heard of you and from there – fantastic.
“I want to present to you and your agent a three-year contract, €165,000 per week. €26 million, essentially, all yours.”
Conor sat back and looked at Kevin with the sheet of paper in front of him. It was a mind-blowing amount of money. A €140,000 weekly pay rise in comparison with his Bordeaux contract. Despite this, he still had issues with Alcaraz to iron out.
“I don’t know, Señor Alcaraz,” Conor said, looking at the club president bluntly. He could almost feel Kevin’s eyes angrily digging into his face, he knew that Conor wouldn’t get many better offers on the table.
“I need assurances.” Conor said.
“Enlighten us,” Alcaraz replied, smiling.
Conor began: “What has happened to Real Madrid since 2026? In fact, no, since 2024? I don’t mean to offend you, but since you won your first term as president, you have won just one La Liga title – and even that title was the last bastion of Perez’s team.
“Not a single Champions League trophy under your tenure as president, only getting past the quarter-finals on one occasion. It doesn’t fill me with confidence working under this, it’s just something I have to admit before signing anything. I impressed you, you need to impress me.
“The squad needs overhauling. Completely. This team you have now bears no resemblance to what a Real Madrid team should look like. Are you prepared to back me with funding for an entire new squad? Because that’s who I am. I rebuilt a useless Cobh in my own image, I rebuilt a crumbling Bordeaux in my own image. That is what I’m good at. I know what a Real Madrid team under Conor McDonald should look like.”
Alcaraz looked genuinely horrified at the accusations that Real Madrid’s failings in the past decade are down to him. In his heart, he wanted to fight back, in his head, he knew he needed Conor to fix the problems that he had created.
“You’re right,” Alcaraz said as Kevin breathed a sigh of relief at not losing the deal. “We are prepared to provide four-hundred million euros for transfers. Since you are insistent on replacing the team more or less, the rest of that budget will be provided through player sales.”
The Madrid directors looked mystified at what Alcaraz had just put to McDonald. A pre-agreed budget of €400 million was clearly unheard of under his regime.
“Then we can call this a deal.” Conor said with a smile. He stood up and shook Alcaraz’s sweaty hand. “My lawyers will look through the contract but I’m willing to let you release that we have verbally agreed a deal.”
To be the best team in the world, sometimes you have to be a set of c***s
The atmosphere around Madrid has been toxic, particularly under their new president. There seems to be a way through, though.
You would expect gratitude paid back in support from board level but it just is not there. All of those problems have seemingly gone away with a move to Madrid however!