Throughout much of Roma's modern history (let's say the 90s to now), their goalkeeping hopes lived on a wing and a prayer. There were solid players back there for sure, but they never really made you feel entirely comfortable. Roma's Totti-infused false nine may have been setting a new trend in global football, but you could never escape the impending sense of dread between the sticks. Doni or JSB or Stekelenburg were capable of making huge saves but could never deliver consistency.
Roma only had so much money to spend and their mantra was to accentuate the attack—to use their meager resources to help Francesco Totti—so they couldn't spend their way into excellence in goal.
And so it went for nearly 20 years. But all that changed on July 6, 2016. For the tidy sum of €8 million, Roma purchased Alisson Ramses Becker from Brazilian side Internacional. While he wasn't a complete unknown—he was already capped by Brazil—we didn’t really know what to expect from this kid.
After a season spent deputizing Wojciech Szczesny, Alisson broke through in a BIG WAY during the 2017-2018 season, emerging as arguably the best keeper in the world.
So, while it might be painful, let's look back at Alisson's magnificent season in Rome.
In 63 appearances in a Roma shirt, Alisson kept 26 cleansheets and stopped 74% of all shots he faced. During his time with the club, Roma finished in 3rd place during his lone year as a starter and reached the semi-finals of the 2018 Champions League.
Notable Achievements: The Entire 2017-2018 Season
It's not often that Roma can truly claim they have the best player in the world at any particular position. Daniele De Rossi was arguably the best box-to-box midfielder in the world during the late 00s and early 10s, while Francesco Totti was always among the best players in the world during his peak, full stop, but there wasn't much to brag about beyond that.
Alisson's impeccable ‘17/’18 season put him in that conversation. By some estimates, the Brazilian Don Draper single handedly saved and/or earned Roma 10 to 13 points that year. His positioning was flawless, his technique perfect, his reflexes super human and his skill on the ball sublime. Alisson was an added weapon for Eusebio Di Francesco that season, jump starting many attacks with his quick and accurate distribution, even notching one actual assist with his powerful leg.
Alisson passed the eye test with ease, but the advanced statistics were just as kind to Mr. Becker, as he exceeded his expected goals allowed in 30 of his 37 league starts, allowing 9.46 fewer goals than would have been expected by an average keeper.
Anyway you slice it, this was the best goalkeeping performance Roma has ever seen, but don't worry guys, there's NO WAY WE ARE SELLING HIM.
Where is He Now?
Liverpool. One of the most loathsome clubs in the world. In the end, Pallotta's words were meaningless, as the club capitulated at the first sign of foreign interest, selling Alisson to the Reds for €72 million, which was a world record fee for a keeper for, like, a week.
Alisson helped Liverpool win the 2019 Champions League, took home the FIFA Goalkeeper of The Year Award in 2019 and the first ever Yashin Award, given to the world's top keeper by France Football, which is essentially the Ballon d’Or for keepers.
It hurts to see him excelling with another club, but with over 90% of your vote, Alisson left Woj and Morgan De Sanctis in the dust.
Coming up tomorrow: Your best right back of the 2010s.