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Weighing Roma's Goalkeeping Options: Rui, Svilar, or Someone New Next Season?

Who will be Roma’s no1 choice between the sticks next season? Let’s take a look at all possible options and their pros and cons. This is the way, my friends.

AS Roma Training Session Photo by Fabio Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

While Roma’s season is right in the middle of money time (Europa League final? Top 4 in Serie A?), let’s take a short break from 2022-2023 and look to the not-so-distant future: Roma’s 2023-2024 campaign. There are a lot of question marks concerning our squad: Will Tammy stay? And Dybala? What about Wijnaldum’s loan? Can we afford to keep Ibañez? Has Belotti done enough to extend his contract? Will Rick Karsdorp’s injury come back to haunt him? How about the future of the big boss himself, José Mourinho?

While they all are very interesting topics to dissect, let's focus on a different dilemma for next season: the situation between the sticks, one that may not be as clear-cut as it seems after Mile Svilar's decent performance against Bologna. {Editor's Note: this was written prior to Rui Patricio's excellent performance against Leverkusen}

Do we go ahead with Rui Patricio, 35 going on 36? Is it time for Svilar to finally shine and step out of the shadows? Or will Pinto keep an eye out for possible replacements or golden opportunities in the summer transfer market? It’s not an easy choice, you can’t simply pick one and say ‘This is the way’ in a deep, Mandolorian voice. Although I love Pedro Pascal with every inch of my body, the man’s a damn treasure.

Ok, so let’s sum up the three main roads and look at the pros and cons of each of them. This is the only way. If you say so, Pedro.

Rui Patricio

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v AS Roma: Semi-Final Second Leg - UEFA Europa League Photo by Joris Verwijst/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Might as well start with the obvious, right? Roma maintains their faith in Rui Patricio and he’ll be our number one for the third consecutive season. Hurray for consistency!

The Pros

By now, Rui is a household name in Rome. He already amassed 100+ games and his second season isn’t even over yet. Rarely injured, always healthy. He’s a sure bet for 50+ games next season. At the age of 35, there’s little you can teach Rui. He even holds the record for most Europa League appearances. What you see is what you get. And that’s a more than decent keeper with an abundance of experience.

The chemistry with his partners in crime in front of him (Smalling, Mancini, Ibañez) is something you can’t just replace in a heartbeat. Mourinho has improved the defensive foundation of Roma and Rui is one of the main reasons why.

Plus, in an ideal world, Svilar could go out on loan to another Serie A team like Udinese, Monza, or Sassuolo next season and in 2024 Rui can safely pass the torch while returning to his homeland.

The Cons

Curiously, his pro can also be a con. What you see is what you get. Don’t expect any miracles from Rui next season; it’ll be mostly the same performances we've seen the past two years. Some might believe the Portuguese has lost a bit of his mojo, kinda like Austin Powers. He’s decent yes, but I can’t help but feel guys like Onana, Handanovic, Maignan or Szczesny are still in another league.

He didn’t cost us as many points as let’s say Ibañez, but there are some obvious flaws in his game. The question is, do we accept them and just deal with them for one more year? Or act now and search for an upgrade? If Roma once again fails to qualify for the Champions League, then there really is no room for mistakes next season.

Moreover, if we continue with Rui Patricio, how will Svilar and Boer react? How can we keep both of them happy? I reckon they don’t want to lose another year rotting on the bench and rightfully so. They’re professionals and want to play as much as possible. Could Roma regret losing their upcoming talents for just one more year of Rui Patricio?

Mile Svilar

Bologna FC v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Which leads us to our Belgian/Serbian hybrid goalkeeper. Turning 24 this summer, Mile still has a lot of seasons in front of him. But at which club? After a clean sheet vs Bologna (and mind you with a makeshift defense), Svilar stood his ground and made a far better impression than his debut in the Europa League against Ludogorets. Surprisingly, people are starting to believe the kid could be a viable option for next season instead of Rui.

The Pros

Well, to start with Mile is 11 years younger than Rui Patricio so Roma would drastically decrease the average age of the team and he’s a long-term solution. And if his Bologna performance was any indication, things can only get better. While Rui Patricio is a finished product, Svilar is just a ‘child’ compared to most goalkeepers in Serie A. His ceiling could be anywhere, from Rui Patricio’s level to the best thing in Italy since pizza calzone. Rui might be a more complete keeper right now, but Svilar has better feet and agility. In other words: Rui is old school, and Mile is the prototypical modern keeper.

Once hyped as the next big goalkeeper from Belgium after Pfaff, Preudhomme, Mignolet and Courtois, Mile still hasn’t exploded on the scene. Yet. But when/if he does, Roma better be his employer. I don’t know, there’s something about him. The kid’s special and he gives me Alisson vibes. Roma’s goalkeeping staff already did wonders in the past, they can do the same with Mile. Also, how cool would it be to write ‘Grazie Mile’ after a great match of Svilar? The stuff of dreams.

The Cons

If Roma starts with Svilar as their first choice and the first few games do not go as planned (and he turns into Mauro Goicoechea 2.0), then hell might break loose. Fans will call for his head, Svilar’s hands will be burned, his Roman career will probably be over by October and Rui Patricio returns to save the day. So perhaps not all will be lost but damage will already be done.

Perhaps it’s also a bit too soon to jump on the Svilar bandwagon. After all, we’re talking about a player with merely 30-35 professional appearances so far. Other keepers from his age are already on the next level, further in their development. Mile is just getting started and as we all know, Rome can be a hot environment and not for everyone. This road could be bumpy and there are risks in promoting Svilar; that’s undeniable.

As I said before, Svilar should play at least one whole season for a smaller team so he can return to Roma in top form. It wouldn’t hurt his chances.

Mr. X

Rui? Meh, sell him for what he’s worth. Svilar? Clearly not up for the job. Pinto could open his wallet and search for a third option. A proven yet younger keeper than Rui, one with more experience in Serie A than Svilar. Preferably Italian and in his 20s. Currently, there are a lot of options out there: Vicario, Di Gregorio, Falcone, Carnesecchi, or Gollini for example. Dragowski, Musso or Milinkovic-Savic are the non-Italians.

The Pros

C’mon, everyone loves shiny new toys. While we all know the strengths and/or weaknesses of Rui and Svilar, a new player starts with a clean slate in Rome. If you look at the impressive stats of certain guys like Vicario and Di Gregorio, it makes you wonder how they would do with a sturdy defense and a tactician like Mourinho in Roma. If it’s a hit, then Roma is set for years to come. Or they sell him later on for €75 million. Either way, it’s a win.

Also, it’s been far too long since Roma had a worthy starting Italian goalkeeper in his prime. Rui Patricio, Pau Lopez, Fuzato, Olsen, Lobont, Szczesny, Stekelenburg, Alisson, Doni, JSB... Yes, there were Morgan De Sanctis and Mirante but both men arrived in their late 30s. The time has come for some Italian flair between the sticks.

The Cons

Well, obviously financial. While Rui and Svilar are already on our books, Pinto would have to buy a third goalkeeper and it’s gonna cost some money. While Empoli, Monza, or Atalanta are no Manchester City or Barcelona, they’ll want to collect as much money as possible from any potential sale. You could try to sell one of Rui or Svilar but how much profit is Roma gonna make? Far less than the price of Vicario or Di Gregorio. You could sell another prized asset like Tammy or Ibañez but then you’d just create problems in other departments. And you’ll need to replace them as well.

Buying a newcomer would mean at least one of Rui or Svilar is out. And imagine, just imagine the new signing isn’t cutting it. What do you do? Hope for one last trick from Rui.?Try Svilar one more time? Why did we even buy a third one then?

So there they are. The three possible roads to take. But tell me, which one is THE way? Unleash your inner Pedro Pascal and give us your thoughts. Which goalkeeper is your Baby Yoda? Which one must we protect at all costs?