While we gave Wojciech Szczesny an awful lot of grief around here last season—and by we, I mean me—the truth is he was probably somewhere between the extreme portraits we painted of him last season. For every miraculous, fingertip save versus Barcelona, there were the times he charged off the line like a toddler taking its first step. Woj probably wasn’t as bad or as inept as I made him seem, but he’s certainly not Roma’s long term solution between the sticks, as evidenced by the signing of Alisson Becker.
Alisson is an imposing figure on the backline and has already grabbed the reins for the Seleçao at all of 23-years-old, so the future would seem to be his, but does that necessarily mean Roma should hand him the keys from day one?
Given the club’s history with Brazilian keepers, it’s not surprising they're a little hesitant to put the onus squarely on his shoulders from the jump, especially when he has no continental experience whatsoever, but he has an awful lot of promise and he wasn’t exactly cheap.
So, although it sort of slipped through the cracks yesterday, Roma and Arsenal have thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into Roma’s keeper hierarchy, reportedly agreeing to extend Szczesny’s loan for a further season, one that now includes a reported €16 million option to buy, which may or may not be compulsory.
In the short run, you’d have to imagine Woj gets the nod, simply because of his experience and familiarity with Spalletti, but I find it hard to believe they’d bring in someone with Alisson’s pedigree simply to ride the pine. So this very much smacks of a short term move; for the club it bides them a little time to see if Alisson is ready for European football, while Woj gets another chance to impress on a larger stage, one he better grab because, at this point, it looks like his future rests neither with Roma or Arsenal.
As Spalletti alluded to, competition for the starting spot should bring out the best in both keepers, and while neither seems like the type to throw a tantrum, you always want to keep clubhouse chemistry in mind when making these sort of personnel decisions.
Of course, a lot of those troubles could be alleviated if Roma didn’t wait until August to build a defense.