Roma has never been a club blessed with continuity. Sure, Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi were Capitoline fixtures for nearly three decades, but almost every other position, from the boardroom to the pitch, was in constant flux. And that includes the men between the sticks. From Julio Sergio to Maarten Stekelenburg to Wojciech Szczesny to Pau Lopez to Antonio Mirante, Roma chews up and spits out more keepers than you can count.
That is until Rui Patricio came to town.
While he's given us a few collective gray hairs, the Portuguese keeper has brought much-need stability in goal since arriving from Wolverhampton in 2021. When Patricio dons the gloves against Salernitana in two weeks, it will mark the first time a Roma keeper has lasted three consecutive seasons as the nominal starter in nearly 20 years. Not since the days of Doni (2006-2009) has a Roma keeper managed that feat. On that alone, the man deserves a bronze bust outside the Olimpico.
But...he may not make it through the entire season. Entering the final year of his contract and with Mile Svilar breathing down his neck, we could see a changing of the guard in 2024. Before we fret about that, let's dig deeper into Roma's top two keepers...and, I guess Pietro Boer.
Roster:Rui Patricio, Mile Svilar, Pietro Boer
Key Player: Rui Patricio
Whether he keeps 38 clean sheets or leaves mid-season to teach beard grooming lessons full-time, Rui Patricio's Roma career is coming to a close in ten short months. Considering that, he's not really under pressure, per se, so he's our Key Player by default. Still, with Roma's financial lifeline depending on finishing in the top four, Patricio must end his Giallorossi career on a high note.
With 13 clean sheets in 35 appearances last season, Patricio was among the stingiest keepers in the league. However, once you move past that surface statistic, Patricio's finish loses some of its sheen. Ranking 16th in save percentage and 47th in Post-Shot Expected Goals minus Goals Allowed (PSxG +/-), the actual shot-stopping metrics weren't kind to Roma's veteran keeper.
And if the rumors of Roger Ibañez leaving the club are true, he'll have one less familiar face in front of him. Patricio has had a long and successful career, so let's hope he finishes it with a flourish.
Player Under Pressure: Mile Svilar
While he's not facing the same end-of-my-contract/career pressure as Patricio, with a year of training under his belt, Svilar should see more action on the pitch this season, whether in early season cup matches or in the event Patricio falters. In Svilar's four appearances for the club last year, we saw nearly the entire gamut of goalkeeping possibilities. One minute, Svilar showed impressive reflexes, positioning, and the perfect amount of aggression, while at other times (namely, the club's ill-fated mid-season tour of Japan), he looked overwhelmed.
He may not be the starter, but make no mistake: this is a make-or-break season for Svilar. With José Mourinho's contract expiring in June and GM Tiago Pinto facing increased scrutiny, Svilar may not have many familiar faces greeting him at the gates of Trigoria next season.
If Svilar shines and proves capable of commanding the backline, Roma will have one less headache to worry about as they face their post-Mourinho existence.
A Year From Now, We'll Say
Rui Patricio availed himself well during his final season, and while Mile Svilar showed promise, the club will likely entertain a goalkeeping competition next summer.