After having one of the best goalkeepers in Serie A, Wojciech Szczęsny, for two seasons followed by arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, Alisson, for one season, things have been less than stellar between the sticks for Roma over the last three years. Following a season where Alisson singlehandedly secured numerous points in the standings, we saw Robin Olsen do just the opposite. The Swede’s slip-ups ultimately cost the Giallorossi a place in the Champions League—a drought now going on its third season.
Roma’s solution to closing that sieve was to make its most expensive signing at the position ever: Pau Lopez for €23.5 million. Lopez arrived with the hopes of solidifying Roma’s goal and allowing the Giallorossi to play with Fonseca’s preferred build-from-the-back approach.
However, the Spaniard proved to be average during the best of times and horrifying during the worst—oftentimes finding himself relegated to the bench in favor of veteran Antonio Mirante. Yet, Mirante wasn’t much better and Roma often paid the price. Finally, we got to see Daniel Fuzato get a run of matches at the end of last season, but the sample size was small; certainly too small for José Mourinho’s liking considering Fuzato’s inexperience. And with that, Roma was back in the market for a keeper for the third time in four seasons.
With the departure of Lopez to Marseilles and the arrival of Rui Patricio from Wolves the goalkeeper carousel continues to turn in the Italian capital. The Giallorossi decided to bring in the veteran shot-stopper, who, at 33-years-old, is no spring chicken. However, Mourinho and Pinto decided to target their proven compatriot rather than some of the younger more exciting names like Alessio Cragno, Juan Musso, and Pierluigi Gollini.
So, with that in mind, let’s see what the best and worst-case scenarios could prove to be at the goalkeeper position in Mourinho’s maiden season in the Italian capital.
Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio (#1 Option), Daniel Fuzato (Backup), Pietro Boer or yet to be signed veteran (Emergency Third Keeper)
Best Case Scenario
In the best-case scenario, Patricio does what Olsen and Lopez couldn’t do in their time at the Stadio Olimpico— limit mistakes, make the saves he’s supposed to make, occasionally pull a rabbit out of his hat, and just not cost Roma points on the table.
Roma has been lacking a keeper who instilled confidence and could get the job done on a week-to-week basis. Patricio has to be that guy and he showed the ability to do just that with a couple of big saves in Roma’s recent friendly against Porto.
Patricio will hopefully find himself a bit less under fire than Lopez and Mirante did last season with a more solid defensive approach in front of him thanks to Mourinho’s arrival. Plus, a year more experience for Gianluca Mancini, Max Kumbulla, and Roger Ibañez, as well as a healthy Chris Smalling should hopefully make his job slightly easier.
Worst Case Scenario
In the worst-case scenario (barring injury), Patricio proves to just be an older version of Olsen and Lopez. A guy who is no more than bang average and costs Roma vital points along the way. As the season wears on, and Patricio continues to struggle, Mourinho decides to roll the dice with Fuzato, who ultimately himself proves not to be up to snuff in meaningful matches.
If that scenario plays itself out then Roma finds itself out of the Champions League and perhaps Europa League again and is back in the market for a keeper come June for the fourth time in five seasons. The Giallorossi are forced to splash bigger cash for a player like Cragno next summer, while they are stuck looking for a home for Patricio like they’ve had to do in recent summers with Olsen and Lopez.
Breakout Candidate: Daniel Fuzato
In an ideal world, Fuzato continues to grow and show that he has the potential to be a first-team starter. Having just turned 24, the Brazilian would ideally like to be starting somewhere but should find minutes in Rome with the Giallorossi in the Conference League. If given the chance to play those matches and maybe the Coppa Italia by Mourinho, hopefully, Fuzato grabs the bull by the horns and shows everyone why Pinto chose a shorter-term solution in Patricio, rather than a long term solution like Cragno.
Considering what we’ve seen from the goalkeeper position in recent seasons, the pressure will be on Patricio to come good and reward Mourinho’s faith in him. If he falters many will be asking why it wasn’t Roma, rather than Atalanta, who jumped on Juan Musso, or why the Giallorossi didn’t go hard after Cragno, who as of now is still at Cagliari. However, if he proves to be able to get the job done then Roma will have a much-improved chance at achieving the stated goal of a top-four finish.