While the rivalry between Manchester City and Manchester United rages on every year, some of the clubs’ Argentinian players put aside their red-and-blue differences to participate in the best peacekeeping tradition of them all: asado. City’s Pablo Zabaleta recently revealed to Argentinian outlet La Nacion that he regularly gets together to grill meat with teammates Nicolás Otamendi, Sergio Agüero, and Willy Caballero, Manchester United’s Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo, and Everton’s Ramiro Funes Mori.
The asado ritual got so serious that both Agüero and Otamendi installed full-size grills in their homes, which now host the events whenever the players can meet up.
According to Zabaleta, everyone has a role in the proceedings: he handles buying the meat and helping with the sides, Agüero handles the music–mostly cumbia and reggaeton–and Caballero handles the coal; he says that firewood would be preferred, but the wet Manchester climate puts a literal damper on that. As for Otamendi, he’s in charge of the actual grilling, a fact that Zabaleta says has gone to his head: “You can’t tell him a lot because he gets cocky, but he’s very good.”
United’s Sergio Romero might have the best role of all, though: “What do I do? Nothing! I bring a good mood! We are far from Argentina, far from family and friends. Barbecues are a way to feel close to home.”
That feeling of closeness in a foreign country is why Funes Mori often makes the hour-long drive from Liverpool whenever he can, and what Otamendi appreciates most about the asado crew: “The truth is that we have a great time. We are fortunate to be in the same city and get along together.”