By Kevin Affleck
"Give us a chance," begged an incredulous Rene Gilmartin after Mauro Zarate whizzed one past him with his right foot and then another with his left peg.
Zarate was not in a forgiving mood and soon after in a coconut-shy style shooting session on Wednesday, he slammed one more past the despairing, full-length dive of Watford's imposing No 3 keeper. On his first day, Zarate also scored the winner in the game that finished training. It was quite the way to announce your arrival to your new teammates.
"He's a quality player," said Valon Behrami. "He's a good dribbler and his set-pieces are always dangerous. He can be lethal in the last 20 metres so we need to put him in the right position and let him play free. That's what he likes to do."
Sound familiar? Sound a bit like what they used to say about another diminutive Argentine who used to wear the yellow of Watford?
"I know Zarate," said Fernando Forestieri. "He is an amazing person and an amazing player. If he has the confidence of the manager, then the fans will love him. He has everything: dribbling, a good shot and pace. I think he can be a good striker for Watford."
Zarate sounded out Forestieri ahead of his move to Vicarage Road. "He asked me about Watford," Forestieri confirmed. "I said I had some nice memories and that the fans are amazing. I told him I lived in Watford and that he should live there. Maybe he prefers another town or London."
Zarate, 29, has lived in his fair share of places; from Birmingham to Doha to Buenos Aires in a nomadic career that has taken in nine clubs in 10 years. Five were spent in Serie A, turning out for heavyweights like Lazio, Inter Milan and Fiorentina. He had such potential at one stage that Lazio put a buy-out clause of €60m in his contract in 2009.
"I am happy to be teammates with him now," said a relieved Miguel Britos, who chased Zarate around during his Napoli days. "I've played against him a lot of times and he's fast, unpredictable, skilful and has power. It was difficult marking him. He's a very good player.
“Sometimes I kicked him. This is normal. I won sometimes but also I lost."
Sebastian Prodl was one win away from lining up against Zarate in the final of the 2007 Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Canada. Prodl's Austria side were knocked out in the semi-final by Czech Republic who were sunk, in the final, by Argentina. And guess who scored the winner after Sergio Aguero had scored the first? Yep, Mauro Zarate.
"Zarate was a big player when he was young," added Forestieri. "He's still a good player. Aguero is amazing but Zarate has other things, different things. He's perfect for Watford – he just needs to have the confidence of the coach."
It seems like he's already got the seal of approval from his new teammates, adding to the squad's increasing South American flavour.
"He's a funny guy," said Britos. "He's going to be a good guy for us," added Behrami. "He's got a strong personality and if he's got some jokes, then this is even better."