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It’s Time For Roma to Find a Rui Patricio Replacement

With Rui Patricio performing below standard, we explore some Serie A options Roma could pursue to replace the Portuguese keeper, including the hottest name on the market, Guglielmo Vicario.

SS Lazio v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The recent links to strikers have dominated the Roma rumor mill so far in this international window. From Roberto Firmino to Romelu Lukaku to Mateo Rutegi, the names have been flying in fast and furiously. And while it’s entirely possible that Tiago Pinto and Co. may try to cash in on Tammy if the right Premier League offer comes in this summer, there’s another position that’s been flying under the radar that has become just as big of a need as any: goalkeeper.

There’s no doubt that last season Rui Patricio solidified a position that had been a problem for the Giallorossi since Alisson’s departure after the 2017-18 season. For three seasons, we suffered through Robin Olsen, Pau Lopez, and an aging Antonio Mirante—their errors in goal costing Roma numerous points in the Serie A table. And as solid as Rui was last season, his 35 years seem to have caught up with him.

In fact, Patricio has seemingly slowed down so much that he’s been one of the worst goalies in the league by advanced statistics this season. The most notable of those statistics is PSxG-GA, which measures how likely a keeper is to stop shots minus goals allowed. (Positive numbers are better.)

This season Patricio has a PSxG+/- of -4.4 in league play which is fifth worst in Italy’s top flight. That’s a drop off of 5.2 goals allowed from last season’s +1.2. And when you throw in his -1.8 PSxG+/- in the Europa League, Patricio is -6.2 in all competitions this season.

To give some context, Pau Lopez's PSxG+/- was just slightly below zero in both seasons he played for Roma (-0.7 and -0.6), which indicates he just about saved what he should’ve. Meanwhile, Alisson was otherworldly with a PSxG+/- of +7.4 in his lone season as Roma’s starter, hat actually pales in comparison with the +10.2 he’s put up with Liverpool this season. However, Olsen’s -4.0 PSxG+/- in his only season with Roma really demonstrates Patricio’s struggles this season.

When put in this context, it's clear that the Giallorossi need a new keeper next season to maximize a Mourinho defense that has the second-best xGA (22.1) in the league but has allowed the fourth fewest goals (26). It’s a goal here or goal there that can make the difference between a spot in the Champions League or a dwelling in the Europa League.

With Mile Svilar playing just 90 Europa League minutes in September, it’s pretty clear that he’s not that guy in Mourinho’s eyes, so the Giallorossi will have to turn to the transfer market for a keeper for the fourth time in six summers.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few potential candidates currently based on the Italian Peninsula.

The Favorite: Guglielmo Vicaro

AS Roma v Empoli FC - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Current Club: Empoli

Age: 26

Market Value: €16 million (all values via TransferMarkt)

Vicario has been the name most linked with Roma since the beginning of this season. The 26-year-old didn’t become a regular Serie A starter until last season when he arrived at Empoli from Cagliari. However, since then, he’s been a fixture in the Tuscans’ net and performed well.

Vicario has been one of the most reliable keepers in the league this season, posting the fifth-best PSxG+/- (+2.3). He’s made 73 saves in the process. However, his 72.1% save percentage is actually level with Patricio. Vicario has also been linked with Inter Milan as an Onana replacement if the Cameroonian jets for the Premier League, so his €16 million valuation likely pushes up closer to the €20 million range.

The Young Stud: Marco Carnesecchi

US Cremonese v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Current Club: Cremonese (on loan from Atalanta)

Age: 21

Market Value: €13 million

Like Vicario, Carnesecchi has been linked with Roma throughout the season. And of all the keepers on this list, he likely has the highest upside. Carnesecchi came through the Atalanta youth system and is still owned by La Dea but has been loaned out the last four seasons—each of the last three with Cremonese. After helping Cremonese to promotion last season, Carnessechi has gotten his first opportunity in Italy’s top flight this season and has looked the part of a number-one keeper.

Playing behind a leaky defense on a relegation-bound side means Carnesecchi’s numbers won't jump out at you: he’s just about even with PSxG+/- (-0.3) while sporting a 71.4% save percentage. That being said, Carnesechi seriously outperforms Patricio in claiming crosses. Carnesecchi has successfully claimed 7.8% of crosses in his area. That’s the best mark in the league and more than double Patricio’s 3.4% success rate.

Carnesecchi would bring the most attention this summer, given his age and potential. However, given the fact that he’s owned by Atalanta and also reportedly being tracked by Juventus, the €13 million valuation put forth by TransferMarkt is probably quite low.

The Hometown Bargain: Wladimiro Falcone

Wladimiro Falcone of US Lecce reacts during the Serie A... Photo by Andrea Staccioli /Insidefoto/LightRocket via Getty Images

Current Club: Lecce (on loan from Sampdoria)

Age: 27

Market Value: €5 million

Falcone is a bit of a late bloomer. His first full season as a regular starting goalkeeper above the Serie C level came just two seasons ago with Cosenza in Serie B. However, he showed enough in nine starts for Samp last season for Lecce to take him on loan this year. And it turned out to be a shrewd move for the Pugliese side as a Falcone has repaid its trust with a strong season.

Falcone ranks high in many of the key goalkeeping categories and is one of the reasons why Lecce has outperformed expectations and been able to take points off of many of the big clubs this season. His PSxG+/- is fourth best in the league at +2.4. Meanwhile, he’s made the third most saves (89) and has the fourth-best save percentage in Italy’s top flight (75.9%).

The native-born Roman would come with some risk, given his lack of significant top-flight experience. However, he’s a Roma fan, according to his father’s recent comments, so he’d likely jump at the chance to join the Giallorossi.

Given his low price tag, maybe he can be brought in in tandem with another option as the backup, similar to what Lazio did with Ivan Provadel this season.

The Forgotten One: Alessio Cragno

Football, Italy Cup: Juventus FC VS AC Monza Photo by Giuliano Marchisciano/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Current Club: Monza (on loan from Cagliari)

Age: 28

Market Value: €4 million

Cragno presents an interesting profile. Just a couple of summers ago, I was clamoring for the Giallorossi to bring in Cragno before they signed Patricio. The Italian looked like one of the best keepers in the league and was just entering his prime. But then things quickly went south during Cagliari’s relegation season in 2021-2022

In fact, last season, Cragno had the worst PSxG+/- in the entire league, a putrid -9.6. That was his first negative mark since his debut season as a 23-year-old in 2017-2018. He was brought in by newly promoted Monza this off-season on loan after Cagliari was relegated but has spent most of the season backing up the established starter Michele Di Gregorio.

Cragno exploded onto the Serie A scene with a +9.5 PSxG+/- in 2018-19, and if Roma were to seriously kick the tires on him, the coaching staff would have to believe that keeper is still there. Like Falcone, Cragno would present some risk, as he's barely played this season. However, Cragno could be intriguing if he’s brought in alongside Vicario or Carnesecchi to provide a veteran presence and some competition.

Let us know what you think in the comments section below. Should Roma replace Patricio? Do you like any of the names listed, or should it be someone else entirely?