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Totti Today: Game Of Thrones

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Say hello to the unluckiest man on earth: Lukasz Skorupski

ACF Fiorentina v Empoli FC - Serie A Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

First, let’s take a minute of silence and commemorate Lukasz Skorupski’s career.

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Good, you’re still here. Now, Lukasz Skorupski. How unlucky can one man be? Let’s start at the beginning. You may have forgotten this, but the Pole has been a member of AS Roma since 2013 (!) which is quite astonishing. He’s here longer than Manolas, Radja, Dzeko or SES and as long as Kevin Strootman. 2013-2014 was Rudi Garcia’s first season in charge and guys like Bradley, Taddei, Bastos and Jedvaj ran around Trigoria. Yes, THAT long.

Lukasz’ first season wasn’t a success but no one expected it to be. He was just 22 years old and came from an unknown Polish club (Gornik Zabrzebrabri eeeeey Macarena! or something like that). Morgan ‘Batman’ De Sanctis was the undisputed no1 and rightfully so. Skorupski only made his debut in the Coppa Italia in January 2014, five months after he signed a contract. Even worse, he had to wait until the 37st matchday to make his debut in Serie A, against Juve of all teams. Roma lost, surprise surprise!

Yet no loan deal came his way in the Summer of 2014 and he once again had to play second fiddle for the entire next season. Finally, in 2015, the management let the Pole go to Empoli to gain some valuable experience in Serie A and release him from his Roman imprisonment. At last the sun was shining again for Lukasz. The birds were singing, trees were green and the bees gathered honey from the majestic flowers alongside the Peninsula.

66 games in two seasons, hallelujah! Skorupski established himself as a very decent keeper and one of Italy’s finest goalkeeping prospects. Although he couldn’t prevent Empoli from going down in 2017 (only narrowly though, -2 points on Crotone, he enjoyed a lot of good action and got to know all strikers in Italy. Empoli conceded 61 goals but that’s mainly due to their defense, not Skorupski alone. If he had Manolas, Fazio or Castan in front of him, things would have been different.

Because that other Polish keeper in Rome, Wojciech, decided to go to Juve via Arsenal, Roma recalled Lukasz. He had to battle it out with the Brazilian Alisson for the no1 shirt. Makes sense. 1. Both are nearly the same age and 2. They played very few games for Roma by the Summer of 2017. Di Francesco eventually chose Alisson and the rest, as they say, is history. Alisson has shot to stardom, became a goalkeeper easily worth 50 million and is enjoying interest from Real, Liverpool and PSG, while Skorupski’s, well, back to square one. Or back to 2013. No minutes, no Polish caps and a lot of time on the bench next to Lobont.

Alisson has played every single minute in Serie A and CL, while Skorupski was the designated keeper for the Coppa Italia but that tournament only lasted one game, as Torino beat Roma at home 1-2. Auwch. C’mon, how much can one man take???

Now, Lukasz did nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing. In fact, when he was called upon and had to deliver (at Empoli) he has been more than decent and showed glimpses of his talent. Yet, Roma seems cursed for him. De Sanctis, Woj and now Alisson. There was never a real ‘fight between the sticks’ in Rome since 2013 or so. The hierarchy was set in stone and as long as those three were doing fine, it was clear as daytime Skorupski would always end on the bench.

Luckily for Roma, Skorupski’s a nice lad and he rarely complains. He knows Alisson is the next coming of Jesus Christ in a football shirt and his only hope is a possible sale of the Brazilian next Summer. Then again, who says Monchi wouldn’t use that money (and if it happens, let’s hope it’s gonna be for a ridiculous amount) on a new keeper, genre Perin or Sirigu? The chances of Skorupski being the no1 of Rome next season are pretty slim.

But why? Why? Why? Why? It all looked so promising last year. Knight Skorupski would return after a successful spell in the black outlands and claim the throne, now that the old king De Sanctis is dead and the current king Wojciech was driven out of town with pitchforks and knives. However, he didn’t pay attention to that small yet talented farmer boy Alisson, who would rapidly turn into the leader of the pack and guide his followers to Valhallaaaaaaa!

Ahem... Sorry. Forgive me if I’m being a little fanatic about it, but I do feel sorry for the kid. He’s 27 soon and he should be playing 35+ games a season for his development. I guess Roma was just a bad decision in his career, but little did he know he would always face an impossible task when he entered Trigoria. First by a 36-year-old De Sanctis, then a young unknown from Brazil. Hindsight is a beautiful thing.

Some part of me believes (or wants to believe) Alisson’s success is in a way thanks to Skorupski. Because Alisson knows that if he makes a glaring mistake or when his form decreases, he could lose his spot in a split second. You see, behind him is a not so older alternative who’s also good. That’s why Alisson needs to stay focused and perform out of this world week in, week out. He’s simply afraid of the Pole. Thank you, Lukasz!

In all seriousness, who knows what would have happened if Di Francesco opted for Skorupski and not Alisson as his first choice at the start of the season. Perhaps then Skorupski would now be the real deal and worth 40-50 million and Alisson was just another wasted talent from South-America? We’ll never know. What we do know is that the cards are now dealt by Eusebio and as long as Alisson is here, Lukasz is nowhere near a starting spot.

And that’s the painful truth. Alisson’s the better keeper and guys like him don’t come around often. He’s a fan favorite and loved by the coach and players. If Alisson stays on board for next season, Lukasz simply has to leave Rome, on loan or sold. Because he deserves it. Because he can be so much more. Because he’s more than a ‘good alternative’ sticking on the bench. He needs to shine every week at Sampdoria, Torino or Fiorentina.

And then in two years time, when Alisson earned his ticket to Madrid or Paris... Then maybe, just maybe, King Lukasz can return home and finally sit on the throne he so desperately wanted all this time. Third time’s a charm.

Well, unless Primavera prospect Romagnoli turns into a stud by 2020 and takes the crown. After all, it’s a game of thrones.