clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ranking Roma's Youth, #7: Mile Svilar

Up three spots from last season, the club's number two keeper could see more time on the pitch this season before making the job his own.

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

As we discussed during our preview of Roma's goalkeepers earlier this month, by simply retaining the job for three consecutive seasons, Rui Patricio has brought much-need stability to the position. However, if we're being honest, Patricio's performance started to slip down the stretch last season, potentially opening the door for a certain Belgian usurper.

We kicked off last season's U-23 countdown by shining a light on Mile Svilar, whose only claim to fame at that point was playing three Champions League matches as a 17-year-old. And while that is an impressive feat in and of itself, Svilar's professional career amounted to only nine top-flight appearances. So when we say the book was short on Svilar, we mean it.

Here we are a year later, and while it would be great to say we have a clearer idea of what this kid can become, we simply don't. The spot starts in early cup matches, and the occasional Rui Patricio reprieve appearance never materialized.

In fact, we had to wait until Matchday 35 to catch our first glimpse of Svilar in a competitive Serie A match for the Giallorossi. The young Belgian keeper started three of the club's final four matches in the season, helping pilot Roma to one win, one draw, and one loss before the club's season ended with a whimper.

And while he just made the cutoff by a week (he turns 24 on the 27th), Svilar moves up three spots from last season's ranking.

Number Seven: Mile Svilar

Age: 23

Position: GK

Shades of: More powerful Yann Sommer, Memo Ochoa with slightly worse hair, yard sale Alisson Becker.

Who is He?

Since not much has changed since we were first introduced to Svilar, we'll turn back to our 2022 profile, penned by our very own Belgian, Jonas:

Mile Svilar. Don’t let his name fool you, Mile is a born and bred Belgian. Starting his football career in Antwerp as a kid and joining Belgium’s most prestigious club Anderlecht (well, currently there’s a lot of debate going on about that in the land of fries and waffles) through his teenage years. Then he left his home country at the age of 18 to play for Benfica, another prestigious club. Curiously, Mile didn’t play a single official minute in Belgium but obviously, Benfica’s scouts saw something promising in him.

Son of former Serbia and Antwerp goalkeeper Ratko Svilar, Mile has featured in all of Belgium’s youth teams but eventually chose the Serbian NT since he has a double passport.

Svilar came to Roma from Benfica on a free transfer and is signed with the Giallorossi through 2027, perhaps a testament to the club's faith in his potential as a top-flight keeper.

What Can He Do?

While his teenage debut in the Champions League against Manchester United at Old Trafford is still the top draw, we finally have some tape on Svilar in a Roma kit. And within the first 30 seconds of that highlight package—his first start for the club, against Bologna last May—we caught a glimpse of precisely what makes Svilar such an enticing prospect: a nonchalant finger-tip save over the crossbar followed quickly by pinpoint goal-kick to Georginio Wijnaldum, one that nearly led to a goal two touches later.

All told, Svilar faced 12 shots that day, saving all three on-target attempts en route to his first clean sheet for the club. In his next two starts (away to Fiorentina and home vs. Spezia), Svilar conceded three goals, putting his final season tally at one win, one draw, and one loss while saving 70 percent of his shots.

Although it was only a blip, Svilar showed solid positioning, exceptional reflexes, good technique, and just enough aggression to keep the opposition honest.

So, the big question...

What Can He Become?

With three more seasons on his deal, Svilar has ample runway to prove himself in Rome, but with José Mourinho managing on the last year of his contract, he may have a new manager to impress after this season. However, if he can steal a start or two from Patricio this season and prove that he belongs, the job should safely be his in 2024, if not sooner.

Alisson Becker is the gold standard to which all Roma keepers will forever be held, and while he's not fit to carry the Brazilian Don Drapers bags, he has a similar, albeit less flashy, skillset as the current Liverpool netminder.

He doesn't have Alisson's ball-playing skills (few keepers do), but he's similarly built, equally agile, and athletic, and who knows, maybe he's got a bit of flair waiting to burst out. After all, Alisson wasn't Alisson until he took over the starting gig in 2018 at 24 years old.

It's not a direct line, but if everything shakes out the way we hope, Svilar could become an Alisson-lite.