It doesn’t take a coaching license to notice that perhaps Roma’s most deficient area this season was found between the sticks. The Giallorossi are still enduring their seasons-long search for an adequate replacement for Alisson Becker, and although there were moments here and there where some goalies showed promise this year, there’s a reason that one of José Mourinho’s priorities this summer appears to be a new starting goalkeeper.
Stats: 37 appearances, 2833 minutes, 36 goals allowed, 1.44 goals allowed per 90 in Serie A, .62 goals allowed per 90 in the Europa League
It was hard to say what exactly went well for Pau Lopez this season. I lost faith in the Spaniard about halfway through this season, to the point where I wasn’t exactly shocked to see Paulo Fonseca look for alternatives to the Spaniard in the forms of Antonio Mirante and Daniel Fuzato. The best thing I can say about him is that nobody seemed to do a good job between the sticks this year - it would be more of an indictment of him if Mirante or Fuzato had turned into world-beaters when given the chance.
Writing about where Lopez failed, however, was relatively easy. Basically all of the issues I predicted in the sister piece to the one you’re reading right now came to pass:
The worst case scenario for Roma (barring injury) is that Lopez’s confidence is shot after such a mediocre season, and he is unable to follow through on what potential Gianluca Petrachi saw in him. His shot-stopping ability simply never materializes, and when Antonio Mirante is put in to replace the Spaniard, it rapidly becomes clear that a 37-year-old goalkeeper cannot be the starter for a club with aspirations of the Champions League. If Mirante fails, well, best of luck to Matteo Cardinali, but do the words Mauro Goicoechea mean anything to you?
Replace Matteo Cardinali with Daniel Fuzato and you basically see what happened with Roma’s goalkeepers this year. Lopez couldn’t seem to handle the expecations of being a big-time goalkeeper yet again, and any chance of even selling him for half of what Gianluca Petrachi bought him for have virtually disappeared. Not a great look for a club with Champions League aspirations!
Grade: 4 out of 10 - Put Him on the Market Already
Stats: 16 appearances, 1307 minutes played, 26 goals allowed, 1.48 goals allowed per 90 in Serie A, 4.12 goals allowed per 90 in Europa League play
Obviously, that goals allowed per 90 in Europa League stat is, uh, concerning, but a lot of that comes down to Mirante’s appearance against Manchester United. Beyond that, there’s not to complain about - you have to admit that Mirante did the job of a backup adequately. He didn’t show himself to be a long-term solution for Roma between the sticks, sure, but he’s 37 years old - that shouldn’t be expected of him.
Grade: 6 out of 10 - Enjoy Milan, Antonio
Stats: 6 starts, 540 minutes played, 7 goals allowed, 1.17 goals allowed per 90 minutes
When called upon, Daniel Fuzato was serviceable as a goalkeeper. That’s a whole lot better than I anticipated from a keeper who couldn’t even cut it at Gil Vicente, a mid-table Portuguese side. In his six starts he did allow seven goals, but that clean sheet against Lazio does wonders for a guy’s reputation, huh?
As for what hasn’t gone well: he’s barely played! He’s still quite young for a goalkeeper! At the very least, he’s shown he has some potential in these couple seasons, but he’s still a big question mark. We’ll see how his future pans out, but there’s so little to work with here that we’ve only really seen his positive side to date.