Fabrizio Romano: Soccer’s Prophet of the Deal

In part, his expanding influence — he has added five million social media followers in the past 18 months alone — can be attributed to his work ethic. When Romano is not submitting transfer stories to The Guardian or Sky Sport, he is uploading them to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, or he is talking about them on his podcast or his Twitch channel or in his latest role, accepted last year, with CBS Sports. He discusses them with one of the suite of club-specific podcasts he finds time to grace with his presence as a guest, or replies to his followers directly on social media. There is talk of a book, too. During transfer windows, he said, he regularly does not go to bed until 5 a.m.

Whether it is dedication to his trade or dedication to his brand, or neither — Romano has a puppyish delight in talking about his passion — it has worked. Often, now, the reach of the clubs and the player actually involved in any given transfer is dwarfed by that of the person reporting it.

Last summer, as the Spanish team Valencia closed in on a deal to sign Marcos André, a Brazilian striker who had spent the previous season playing for its La Liga rival Real Valladolid, the club’s marketing and communications arm, VCF Media, was commissioned with finding an unexpected, impactful way to announce it.

A transfer, after all, is a chance for a club to attract attention, to win a few eyeballs and perhaps gain a few new fans in what is now a global battle for engagement. Valencia is not just competing with domestic rivals like Villarreal or Sevilla for that audience, but teams from Italy and Germany and England, too.

The problem, as far as the club could tell, was that there was nothing new about the club’s interest in signing Marcos André. There had been a run of stories hinting at the move for weeks. To reach the broadest audience possible with its confirmation, VCF Media decided to do something a little different.

Once the paperwork on the deal had been completed, and the player had successfully passed his physical, the club contacted Romano and, with the blessing of Borja Couce, Marcos André’s agent, asked if he might like to be a part of the announcement. He agreed, and filmed a short video to tease the deal. It concluded, of course, with his catchphrase.