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Totti Today: A Shift Between The Sticks

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Roma’s goalkeeping department looks unrecognizable after only two months

Bologna FC v AC Chievo Verona - Serie A Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

If there’s one position in Rome that has undergone a transformation, then it’s the goalkeeper. Transformation? Hell, even a mutation. A total plastic surgery from tip to toe, one which would make Kris Jenner or Angelina Jolie jealous.

In defence we still have Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov and co. In midfield there’s the eternal De Rossi, warrior Strootman and prodigy Pellegrini. Up front we have Dzeko, Perotti and SES. But in goal? The entire goalkeeping department has changed. Not a familair face to be seen and this in the space of only two months. Thank God we kept our staff, including Savorani.

Let’s just take a short look at the old and new personnel. Alisson, Lobont and Skorupski from 17-18 are gone. Why, even our youth product and fourth choice goalkeeper Andrea Romagnoli is gone, loaned out to Renate in Serie C. The new guys in town are now called Olsen, Fuzato and Mirante.

The hierarchy sort of stays the same: One older, experienced back-up. One sure starter and another young alternative on the bench. But while Alisson has literally played everything across Serie A and Champions League last season (Skorupski only got one game in the league and zero in the CL), there could be a lot more changes and subs throughout season 18-19.

Alisson was way more talented than the other three and a no-brainer for Di Francesco. But news flash! He’s gone for lots of green rupees (Legend of Zelda, best games ever created) and Skorupski was even sold before the Alisson deal. Lobont retired right after last season (Why Mancat, you were only 40?!) so Roma had a bit of a gap between the sticks. Mirante was brought in in the deal for Skorupski, but although a solid keeper, he’s a big step below Alisson’s level. Or even Donnarumma, Reina or Handanovic.

Hence Monchi looked for two more men/kids to satisfy EDF and came up with Olsen and Fuzato. Olsen is clearly the more established keeper of the two, winning titles in Sweden and Denmark, plus lots of CL experience and the status of no1 of the Swedish national team. Actually, he enjoys a great reputation in Sweden, winning goalkeeper of the year twice, in 2016 and 2017, maybe a third time this year. Fuzato is a young Brazilian prodigy and a total stranger for Europe. Monchi and co are hoping he’ll turn into the next Alisson but it’s gonna take some time and patience.

While Alisson was THE boss, Di Francesco will probably split game time between Mirante and Olsen. After all, Mirante has plenty of Serie A experience and Olsen has played against Europe’s biggest clubs in the CL. Both men have their ups and downs so it’ll come down to who impresses EDF the most. I guess Olsen starts in goal because his fee was higher but don’t be surprised to see Mirante start against the SPAL’s, Cagliari’s or Bologna’s of this world.

When you look at the recent World Cup, then Roma did a breakeven. Alisson was a quarter finalist, Olsen was a quarter finalist. Perhaps Olsen was even a bit more impressive in Russia than Alisson but only because Brazil’s defence is better than Sweden and Sweden punched above their weight, topping a group with Germany and Mexico.

However, Olsen remains a bit of a mystery. He’s taller than Alisson, has arms like Mr Fantasic or Elastigirl and thus is even more frightening for strikers, but he doesn’t have the technique and flair of the Brazilian. Alisson has better feet but both have amazing reflexes.

Considering Olsen only costed 8.5m (excluding bonuses), Roma has a plusvalenza of about 54m after Alisson’s sale right now (62.5 excluding bonuses) while only losing a bit of quality between the sticks. My only fear is that this deal reminds me a lot of the Stekelenburg one in 2011. A good World Cup, big guy, first time in Italy. And we all know how that story ended. The difference is: Olsen is Swedish and they’re known to keep a cool head, work hard and never give up. You know, ever tried to assemble an IKEA closet? Swedish people are heroes I tell ya.

All in all, the swap Olsen-Alisson was a good deal from an economic point of view. Losing Alisson hurts a lot but time will heal all wounds. There will always be another talent waiting in line. The timing of the sale was just bad. And to Liverpool, yuk. Now that we’ve all fell in love with Becker, we have to let him go. Ouch. Yet the romance was short but sweet. Those, my friends, are the best relationships. Crazy rollercoasters, head over heels, those make the best memories.

Now, Mirante and Fuzato. We all know what Mirante brings to the table: Solid, decent, 35 years and 400+ games in Italy. He takes the Lobont role. Probably doing a better job though, because Lobont was hardly alive in 17-18 or in the seasons before that. Anyway, I feel a lot safer with Mirante coming on than Lobont. Antonio isn’t going to make a difference between first or second, or second and third place. But he’s a more than capable bench warmer and amongst the best back-ups in Italy.

Fuzato is the joker. I guess he has the Skorupski role. Just look good on the bench and when you need to come on, defend the goal like your life depends on it. I have no idea what he’s capable of, but he showed some nice things in the friendly against Avellino. He’s only 21 so let’s not put too much pressure on the kid. Skorupski already had two decent spells at Empoli but he’s also six years older. Let Savorani and co work with him and see how it evolves.

Right now he seems our third option, but if he can somehow play a Coppa game or Serie A game here and there, his season is not wasted. Who knows, he can surpass Mirante as the main back-up in two years time. Alisson was also stuck on the bench for an entire year before he exploded on scene. And he costed us millions while Fuzato was peanuts. Time will tell, but it’s a gamble that will not hurt Roma in the long run.

We can all expect Manolas and Fazio to build a wall, Stroots and De Rossi to boss the midfield and Dzeko and Ünder to bang in a couple of incredible goals, but for the love of God I have no idea of our goalkeeper situation will turn out. Is Mirante up for the task? How will Olsen adept to life in Southern Europe? Will we ever see Fuzato in action in Serie A? Shall the ghost of Becker haunt them all?

There’s only way to find out and that’s to finally get the ball rolling in Serie A and the CL once again. Three weeks and counting, gentlemen...