Guardiola to Juventus? Transfer market expert isn’t too sure

Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, in Malta for the MFA’s Football Symposium, spoke about the importance of being right, rather than first, in the digital age

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

As the football season comes to an end, fans’ attention turns to the transfer market, and which big names will be moving clubs before the next season.

One big name that’s been linked with a summer move is Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola who was this week reported to be days from signing for Italian giants Juventus.

Many have assumed the move to be a done deal but Sky Sports Italia journalist and transfer market expert Gianluca Di Marzio has his doubts.

Di Marzio gave a keynote address at the first edition of the Football Symposium being organized by the Malta Football Association, where he discussed trends in the age of the new media.

In addition to following football transfer programmes on television, some of which he said, have more viewers than some top flight football matches, people also want updates online throughout the whole day.

He spoke about how social media and journalism going digital have made more information available to journalists and readers alike, but he said that it has also brought on challenges like fake news, which is also a reality in the football world.

“People want to know before. They can no longer wait for an announcement,” he said, insisting that social media had “changed everything”.

While it was important to be first, he however insisted it was also important to be right.

“Yesterday, everyone was talking about Guardiola moving to Juventus simply because an Italian press agency said it was going to happen,” Di Marzio said.

After reaching out to sources and officials from both clubs, Di Marzio said he was unable to confirm the story.

“I told my followers on Twitter that there was no confirmation but people didn’t believe me, or they thought I simply didn’t know,” he said. “They wanted me to say it was true even if it wasn’t.”

Turning to social media, the journalist - who has made a name for himself in the business and who is considered to be an authority on transfer news - said that it has also changed the way he goes about his job.

Digital Innovations Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri addressed the MFA's Football Symposium
Digital Innovations Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri addressed the MFA's Football Symposium

Despite having over a million followers on Twitter, Di Marzio said he takes time to answer a substantial number of messages he receives.

“People want to be close,” he said, “and the success of the media in the digital world is to talk and engage with people.”

He said that despite never having appeared on television on countries like Turkey or the UK, he is still trusted because he engages with followers and because he prefers to be right than first.

Di Marzio said it was his first time in Malta, but said it was clear that the country was living a “modern reality”.

“People now see Malta as something to discover,” he said, adding that he was sure it would not be his last.

Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri stressed that the use of technology has improved the way the game is played on the field, but in addition to the technical aspect, he said the digital revolution had also changed the way in which football clubs are able to communicate with their fans.

Tokenisation, he said, has also provided clubs with new financial models. He pointed to Juventus and Paris Saint German, both of which have launched fan tokens through a partnership with Malta-based Socios.

Such initiatives were the next logical step, he said, insisting however that there was still much room to be innovative in the sector.

Earlier this week, government launched a ten-year vision for esports and game development, the result, he said, of the present administration’s innovative mindset, which encouraged trailblazing initiatives.

The rise of esports over the years had changed what it meant for one to be an athlete, Schembri said, adding that Malta’s vision would allow it to remain at the forefront of the digital revolution. “Malta provides an ideal backdrop for such technological development.”

He said the strategy would the lay the foundations for the industry to flourish, especially when considering the partnership between Malta and ESL, the world’s largest esports provider and production company.

The sector would also help create a brand new tourism niche for Malta, he said.

He said that, ultimately, new innovative technologies were redefining many sectors and industries and it was up to the country to identify opportunities and make the most of them.

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