Buffon, Casillas, Cech, Neuer, Dida, Kahn, Schmeichel, Ceni, Valdes, Julio Cesar,... During their long history, Roma rarely had a keeper between the sticks of such calibre, one with so much prestige, a keeper who knew the league inside out and stayed at the same club for countless years. Always the first name on the sheet. The man who saved the day. The man who guided his defence and gained the trust of all those defenders who came and went in front of him. A monument that must not be touched.
Ever since my heart started to pump yellow and red blood in my veins (approx. 14 years ago), I’ve seen a lot of keepers pass by. I’m not going to sum them all up right now because I’d like to see my grandchildren grow up one day, but I guess you could subdivide them in three categories. There were the decent and memorable ones like Woj Scheznut (RIP), Julio Sergio and De Sanctis. Then you had some who were, well, ‘meh’, mediocre, blowing hot ‘n cold, not keepers who can a difference—Doni, Stekelenburg or Curci for instance. And last but not least you had the horror stories. Eleftheropoulos, Goicoechea, anyone? And there’s actually a fourth category, ‘f’ckin hipster badass’, for one person only. Of course, it’s Lobont!
Thank God those days of weak knees and slippery hands are far behind us. Actually, since 2013 Roma has little reason to complain in that department. De Sanctis and Woj put up some decent or even great performances throughout the years. Too bad De Sanctis was already 36 when he arrived and lasted only two seasons, while Woj recently decided he wants to actually win a damn thing in Italy and joined Juve instead, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Roma. Enter Alisson Ramses Becker.
You see, now that the Pole is gone, it’s Alisson’s time to shine. He was brought in last summer for quite the fee. AS Roma is his first club outside of Brazil and now he has one full year of acclimatisation, including some Coppa and EL games, under his belt. The club clearly took its time with the Brazilian and is ready to reap the rewards. Although we all love Lobont, at the age of 39 and with zero competitive games since 2013, he’s far from a contender for that spot, even second-choice seems a bit risky. But hey, he’s a funny guy and good for the atmosphere so he stays one more year, period.
Skorupski might stay or go, but he knows he’s not gonna win the battle against Alisson, who’s a bit younger and probably has more potential anyway. Whoever comes to replace Skorupski, it’s not gonna be an expensive star name, rather an older (Italian) senior ala De Sanctis. So yeah, everything’s in Alisson’s (big) hands now.
So much is at stake for him. When he came to Roma, he was the current number one of the Brazilian NT, which is no small feat at that age. During 2016-2017 he lost his place due to limited playing time under Spalletti. This is the perfect opportunity to reclaim his throne. Brazil doesn’t have a Dida, Taffarel or Julio Cesar anymore. No big names. Just take a look at the keepers that were recently called up, next to our boy Alisson. Only Ederson (Benfica, now Manchester City) plays in Europe right now. Diego Alves had a decent spell in Valencia but returned to Brazil some days ago. The rest are rather unknowns: Weverton, Muralha, Fernandes, Grohe.
At Roma, Alisson can now turn into both Brazil and Roma’s number one. We already saw glimpses of his talent, but also some shaky moments that need to be addressed by Di Francesco. When those minor flaws are out of they way, Roma suddenly have a keeper that could last up to five, six, maybe even ten years in Serie A.
And so the Giallorossi may have found their very own Buffon or Neuer after all. To quote Lewis Carroll in his novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:
Alice: "This is impossible". The Mad Hatter: "Only if you believe it is.”