In the last of the Pre-American days, Roma weren't necessarily bereft of talent in goal but they weren't exactly spoiled for choice either. Between Doni, Julio Sergio and the odd Gianluca Curci appearance, Roma received solid albeit erratic performances between the sticks. Doni and Julio Sergio were just as capable of world class saves as they were world class howlers. But that was life. We had Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi and Simone Perotta and John Arne Riise among others, so, despite the lack of our own Buffon, things were still okay. It wasn't easy, but Roma would survive.
While this pattern remained in place during the early days of the American ownership, Roma fans have been treated to some terrific goalkeeping displays over the past several years, which not only improved the product on the pitch but raised our collective expectations; Roma fans now knew what it looked like and felt like to have a top keeper, and now we're never going back.
Of course, the man who raised the bar to its loftiest heights over the past eight years was Alisson Becker, our beloved and sorely missed Brazilian Don Draper. Part of what made Alisson's story so amazing (besides his world class play and world class beard), was his back story.
Unless you were an ardent fan of the Brazilian Serie A, you probably weren't terribly familiar with Mr. Becker; indeed, our initial coverings of him were rather vague, and for good reason. At that time, he was just beginning to make his name on the international scene and had only nine caps to his name. Roma may have paid €8 million for him, but he was firmly planted on the bench behind Wojciech Szczesny, so not much was expected of him initially.
Alisson, of course, eventually made Woj redundant, took the league by storm, and became the world's most expensive keeper for, like, 72 hours. Roma have struggled to replace Alisson (as any club would), but they made an under the radar signing last summer that had many people stroking their chins with intrigue.
While the scales are somewhat different (€8 million vs. €500K, 24-years-old vs 21-years-old, 9 caps vs 0 caps), Alisson's story reminded many of Roma's latest Brazilian keeper, Daniel Fuzato, who arrived in the capital last summer to virtually no fanfare whatsoever. Despite that lack of acclaim, people were quick to compare and contrast Fuzato with his more famous countryman. Fuzato and Alisson had similar builds, boasted similar athletic profiles, and had the same sort of diamond in the rough feel, so the surface comparisons were natural, but they were just that; superficial.
Alisson was more experienced and had a shorter path to playing time than Fuzato, but those superficial similarities led many Roma fans to think we have (or soon will) strike oil twice. A crazy notion that seems more plausible now that Fuzato will be joining Alisson and Manchester City's all-world shot stopper Ederson on Selecao duty when Brazil faces Nigeria and South Korea during the next international cycle.
Yes, a 22-year-old kid who only has one cap at the U-20 level will join arguably the world's two best keepers with the Selecao next month. On this honor, Fuzato was understandably over the moon, taking to Instagram to express his shock:
I could write a million things in this message, but even that wouldn’t be enough to express what I’m feeling right now!
Never stop dreaming and believing, even if the goal seems impossible to reach. There will be lots of struggles and uncertanties along the way, but everything will be worth it in the end.
Now, an international call up has little meaning in and of itself, but why him and why now? Surely this selection has something to do with his talent and potential, otherwise why not bring along someone more experienced like Neto or even a younger keeper who has actually seen first team minutes over the past two seasons? There has to be smoke to this fire—this can't all be a lark from Tite, right?
Let's assume that Tite sees something special in Fuzato, and that his year training with Roma's keeper coach extraordinaire Marco Savorani has done him well, then what does this call-up mean for his Roma future?
As we mentioned at the jump, thanks to stellar seasons from Woj and Alisson, which followed a disastrous stretch in which Roma used the likes of Marten Stekelenburg and Mauro Goicoechea in net before getting a swan song season from Morgan De Sanctis, our collective keeper expectations are sky high.
That higher bar crushed Robin Olsen, so much so that Roma made Pau Lopez (who only has one cap for Spain) one of the most expensive keeper's of all-time. His €23.5 million price tag pales in comparison to Alisson or Kepa, but it is one of the top ten highest fees ever paid for a keeper.
Lopez has been solid this season, but has he been top class? Do you get the feeling people will be beating down Roma's door for his services this summer or next? Could a minor slip-up and the failure to simply not be Alisson lead to that bar crushing his Roma career as well?
If you can even allow for that possibility, it's hard not to read into this call up. Fonseca spoke about how proud he was of Fuzato after the announcement was made last week, so it wouldn't be shocking to see Fonseca reward Fuzato with gloves in the Coppa Italia and/or a meaningless Europa League fixture in the near future.
Antonio Mirante has had a fine career, but he is nothing more than a placeholder. If Fuzato can follow in Alisson's footsteps and start to make his name in Roma's fringe fixtures, he could make Roma (and even Monchi, who signed him last summer) look like geniuses.
None of this is a denigration of Pau Lopez, but if Fuzato can follow the Alisson narrative, this call-up could be the first chapter of a prolific story.
Or it could be nothing at all, but it's a enough to make you wonder if Roma struck the mother lode again.