There’s movement on the goalkeeper front, as reports from Turin’s Tuttosport (via SiamoLaRoma) and Rome’s La Reppublica (via TorinoGranata) open up this week with the story that Salvatore Sirigu’s future lies at Roma for the 2020-21 season. We normally take anything Tuttosport has to say with a pinch of salt, but when sources in both North and Central Italy start making noises on the radar, there’s generally no smoke without mercato fire.
Why The Sirigu Moves Makes Sense for Roma
We passed brief commentary last week, in our Roma player of the season piece when giving due praise to Chris Smalling’s season, that there was no Serie A backline that tried to cut out the danger earlier than Torino’s. Roma were a close second, but when it came to Lyanco and the boys in Granata, they collectively racked up the most interceptions in the league.
What else would you expect from a backline assembled by former Torino and Roma sporting director Gianluca Petrachi? That alone makes Sirigu’s transition to the Eternal City a seamless one, but then there’s his actual individual performance, too.
Sirigu’s Post-Shot Expected Goals / Shots on Target (it’s a mouthful but one of our new favorite advanced keeper metrics this year - basically ranking goalkeepers by their quality of saves) was the 5th best in Serie A last season.
In straightforward English: Sirigu had the 5th hardest goalkeeping job in the league, behind Torino’s aggressive backline that left open space for the Granata’s opponents to pick wide open angles against Sirigu whenever Torino got it wrong. Despite the high-risk job detail, Sirigu came out with flying colours as outperformed the amount of goals the average keeper would be expected to conceed by +4.0.
Only Lecce’s Gabriel, Brescia’s Jesse Joronen, Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma and Lazio’s Thomas Strakosha saved their respective teams more goals.
Sirigu ranked right behind them and, still in his early thirties, can be considered one of the best-suited transfer targets for Roma. It’s not just that the Italian keeper has racked up GK numbers in a mid-table team - which, by itself would say nothing about his value for Roma (read: Robin Olsen) - but that Sirigu is used to the dangers associated with Roma’s high-anticipation defensive style.
To top it off, Sirigu’s distribution accuracy again makes him a Top 5 keeper in Serie A. He differs from Pau Lopez in that Sirigu threw the ball a lot less, used his feet more and passed the ball an average of 6.4 yards more than Lopez.
Why The Sirigu Move Doesn’t Make Sense for Roma
Haven’t we spent most of 2020 criticising Pau Lopez’s weakness when it comes to cutting out crosses? Truthfully, Sirigu is not much better in this department. Though Pau Lopez only has a 6.3% cross-stop percentage (ranking him 14th in Serie A), Sirigu only ranks two places above Lopez with a 6.6% success rate at stopping crosses last season.
Then there’s Sirigu’s more conservative style when it comes to sweeping up behind the high-line defence; it’s a facet of his game that notoriously cost him his moment in the limelight at PSG years ago.
Sirigu spent an average of 13.3 yards outside of his own penalty area last season (compared to Pau Lopez’s 14.9 yards outside of goal (3rd-highest in the league). Only Atalanta’s Gollini and Juventus’ Szczesny ventured outside of goal more than Pau Lopez last season, while Sirigu just isn’t that kind of keeper. What’s a yard or two outside of goal, right? But in fact, Sirigu’s 0.39 average defensive actions outside of the penalty area don’t even rank him inside Serie A’s Top 10 sweeper keepers.
It establishes Sirigu in the old school of Italian keepers who prefer not to venture too far away from home, though it remains an open debate as to whether keepers like Pau Lopez should rush out so much if you don’t even have the save percentage to justify it. There’s coming out of goal, and then there’s being a goalkeeper: actually closing down your angles, and... you know... making saves. The stuff that breads your butter.
Salvatore Sirigu manages to do the latter better than anything Pau Lopez has shown in Roma colours so far, and Torino’s number 1 is that middle-of-the-road style between aggressive keepers like Lopez and the conservatism of Roma’s number 2 Antonio Mirante.
What Stands In The Way of This Move Happening
Quite simply, Roma need to find a club that will sign Pau Lopez before the Giallorossi can afford to sign a new goalkeeper. The Spaniard would need to be sold for at least 24 million euros for Roma to break even on his hefty transfer just 12 months ago.
Then there’s the acrimony between Torino owner Urbano Cairo and Roma. Though the mist may have cleared on that front as Roma is no longer the club of Cairo’s excommunicated right-hand-man Petrachi, nor is Roma under the same ownership that poached Petrachi from under Cairo’s wing just twelve months ago.
Some sources have suggested Roma are proposing a swap move that would see Pau Lopez move up North to Torino. Sirigu may be eight years older, but the move would ultimately ease the financial burden on Roma’s annual expense bill while giving the Giallorossi a good shot at raising the performances levels in goal.
Should Roma replace Pau Lopez with Salvatore Sirigu?
This poll is closed
Yes. Make this move happen.
No. Pau Lopez is worth another shot.
I don’t want Lopez or Sirigu. There are better keepers out there than both.