'Here We Go!' What's It Like to Be a Transfer Window Superstar Reporter?

Dean Jones@DeanJonesBRFootball Insider at Bleacher ReportJuly 9, 2020

B/R Football

When it comes to big transfer news, Fabrizio Romano has become the man who knows best.  

After joining Sky Sport Italy at the age of 19, he built contacts with clubs, agents and intermediaries across Europeand eight years later his hard work is paying off.

Romano has more than 774,000 followers on Twitter, and his slogan, 'Here we go,' provides some of the most excitable responses on social media.

In an era when fans turn to social media for their news updates, he is a transfer window superstar.

"I did not plan for 'here we go!' to become a brand," Romano tells Bleacher Report. "I was not planning anything!

"To be honest, I cannot even remember clearly when it started, but it was a deal about Manchester United, maybe Paul Pogba, and it had been going on for a couple of months. People kept asking me for updates, and when the deal was finally in place I just said, 'here we go!'

"People liked it and started to ask me about other transfer rumoursthey wanted another 'here we go!' about their club.

"I feel excited when I get a big story. For me, it's like scoring an important goal in a big match. I remember when Bruno Fernandes joined Manchester United; that was a good one for me. When you put in so much on one story, and I get the news it has finally happened, I feel excited.

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"People ask me which team I support, but it is not about that. I am excited because of the way the signing will make people feel."

Romano also writes for English newspaper the Guardian and has an additional 360,000 followers on Instagram. His own brand is growing quickly. No matter whether his catchy slogan was deliberate, it is working.

"To be this kind of journalist is not easy because when people ask for news or if something is true, I want to be respectful to other journalists," he explains. "So I just say what I know. I don't want to say 'this is fake.'

"The market has changed in recent years. It used to be meetings with people or getting an agent on the phone, but now you can speak to people on social media as well. I always have to be ready.

"I started with Gianluca Di Marzio, and that taught me a lot. The mentality was not to just check information with clubs but also with agents and intermediaries. I think the secret is to have a good relationship with all of these people. We have to have so many sources now."

Romano is inundated with daily questions on rumoursright now he says Kai Havertz, Jadon Sancho and Thomas Partey are the most frequently asked about.

"But also I get a lot of questions from Tottenham fans," he says. "Their fans don't have a big player coming in at the moment, so they are asking me questions, and they want some news!

"I prefer the transfer window to the actual football matches! Of course I love games, but there is an excitement about working on the market and how things can change so quickly.

"During the break for the coronavirus, it was terrible. There was no football, and the transfer market was in a crazy moment. Everyone was just saying to me, 'We don't know what is going to happen or how much money we will have.' Everything changed.

"You can see in big clubs that it changed things, as a team like Barcelona now do not know how much money they can spend.

"Also, look at Juventus. They wanted to try for Paul Pogba this summer and had worked since January, February on it. But then the virus came, and now they cannot just buy him and will need another need swap deal for it to happen."

Romano usually leads the way in the transfer market, but he is not the only superstar story-getter in the game right now.

Christian Falk has emerged as a must-follow on Twitter. He reports from Germany on the biggest stories in football.

He has led the way on various transfers already this summer, with Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich and Timo Werner to Chelsea both on his list of hits.

You might recognise him best for his style of tweets.

When Falk sees a rumour that he has knowledge of, he will retweet it with "True" or "Not true"and often then break down any details he has.

"I started it because there are so many pieces of news out there," he explains to B/R. "I feel we have a new role as football reporters. 

"In past years when there was not this influencer thing, we reporters were like a gatekeeperwe could decide which things are in paper and what was not. But now our role is to tell the people what is true and untrue. It's important people know what to believe.

"Sometimes that is a little bit hard for me to do if it is not true, and I know the person who wrote the storybut I am not doing it to put them down. I am doing it to be fair. And those people usually like it when I retweet their story and say it is true!"

Falk has been covering Bayern Munich for 20 years and has been at Bild since 2006. In his role as head of football, he is tasked with covering the matches and also breaking transfer stories. 

In a crowded industry he has been able to stand out thanks to his ability to break reliable stories on the  biggest stars. He has built his reputation on covering Germany's biggest club over two decades and is now close to gaining 100,000 followers on Twitter.

"At Bayern, you always meet twice because the players usually come back in another role," he explains when we ask how he's become such a wisdom of transfer knowledge. "Niko Kovac was a player and then coach. Hasan Salihamidzic was a player and is now head of sport. Oliver Kahn was a player and is set to become the CEO. As a reporter, you see these men when they are players and then say hello again when they come back. So they know you."

The Sane transfer this summer was a big one for Falk. He reported last year that Bayern would sign him in 2020.

"It has been a long year for me," he laughs. "But now it is all done, I just get people moving on to the next one and asking me about Havertz!

"Actually, the rumour I get asked about most at the moment actually is Thiago, and I say he will leave Bayern."

Bundesliga has had a new spotlight in recent months after it was the first league to return after the coronavirus pandemic-related break.  

The whole country became more watched, Falk included. But he is relishing his role as one of Twitter's transfer window superstars.

"With the internet and Twitter you want to be first with news, but anybody who hears a rumour can just write," he says. "If you are the person people believe in, then you need two or three sources, so you need to wait for the right time to go with it.

"It is the best feeling when you push the button and send out a big story. I like it when colleagues start to quote you, like if Fabrizio uses it and says 'here we go!'

"I always try to spend a few minutes afterwards answering questions that people have—you get so many people asking—so I give an update. But then I have to put the phone away for an hourotherwise you start to go crazy!"

There is so much yet to come from Bundesliga's big-news breaker this summer. Havertz, Thiago and Sancho are all on his radar.

"I think this window is never going to be a problem for moving big stars," he says.

"Look at Bayern as an example. They made contracts with their important players, and then they had one target: Leroy Sane. They got him.

"But around that time, agents were frustrated because they tried to do other deals and could not make anything happen. Bayern simply focused on getting Sane done before anything else.

"Chelsea are a big player in the market at the moment because they have the money. For one-and-a-half years ,there were no deals, but they are prepared to invest now.

"They are leading for Havertz, and it is interesting how this has happened. Before the coronavirus, the agent told clubs that Leverkusen had five, six, maybe even seven teams interested. Chelsea was just one of thembut now teams like Barcelona have no money. Their idea had been a swap that included Arthur. Also Real Madrid, they can't pay €100 million at the moment."

Falk cannot wait for his next big moment. 

He adds: "To have some big transfer news really is the icing on the cake for us!"