From 2015 to 2018, Roma was in good hands. No, not because their home and car policy was covered by Allstate, but because they have two of the most trusted goalkeepers in Europe. In the 2015-16 and 2016-2017 seasons, Wojciech Szczczny managed to adequately protect Roma’s target before his loan spell from Arsenal expired and he moved to Juventus. Despite this, it was soon forgotten once Roma found someone better: Alison Becker.
Alisson was from another world in leading Roma to the Champions League semi-finals during the 2017-18 season. These memories will live on with Romanisti forever, but due to the Gilrossi’s financial constraints during the Pallotta era, there was no way for Roma to turn down more than €70m for Brazilian Don Draper. In this way, the Giallorossi returned to the market for a guard.
Monchi’s faults as a DS in the Italian capital are well documented, but his replacement for Alisson with Robin Olsen sticks out like an achy thumb. Monchi broke one of the fundamental rules of the transfer market and paid Olsen after he performed well for Sweden at the 2018 World Cup. That turned out to be a disaster and likely cost Roma a return to the Champions League.
To cover this foul on Olsen, Roma dropped more than €20m on Pau Lopez, a goalkeeper who seemed to fit Paulo Fonseca’s needs for a goalkeeper, after just one season. The problem is that Lopez had problems doing his primary job as a goalkeeper: stopping shots. In the second year, he showed some improvement, but the writing was on the wall and he followed Lopez Fonseca out the door last summer.
Enter Thiago Pinto and Jose Mourinho. Thus, enter Rui Patricio. Patricio got into quite a bit of fanfare and criticism from some, with even being linked to Portugal’s Antonio Mirante. So while you already know how it went with Patricio, let’s take a look at our pre-season view of things before judging the position of the Roma goalkeeper.
Best Screenplay in August
In a best-case scenario, Patricio does what Olsen and Lopez couldn’t do in their time at the Olympic Stadium – limit fouls, make the saves he’s supposed to, sometimes pull a rabbit out of his hat, and don’t cost Roma points on the table.
Roma lacked a guard who instilled confidence and could get the job done on a weekly basis. Patricio she has Being that man and showing the ability to do exactly that with a few great saves in Roma’s last friendly match against Porto.
Hopefully Patricio will find himself less under fire than Lopez and Mirante last season with a more solid defensive style in front of him thanks to the arrival of Mourinho. Plus, an additional year of experience for Gianluca Mancini, Max Kumbulla and Roger Ibañez, as well as healthy Chris Smalling, will hopefully make his job a little easier.
In this event, the best-case scenario may actually permeate. Patricio did the things described in the first paragraph to the T. He also proved to be firmly behind Roma’s defense and was a big reason for the low number of goals conceded in Mourinho’s more defensive setup. It is certainly a pleasure to see that my hopes for the best have overcome my fear of the worst.
Worst case scenario in August
In a worst-case scenario (except for injury), Patricio proves to be just an old version of Olsen and Lopez. A guy who is nothing more than an average bang and costs Rome vital points along the way. With the season approaching, and Patricio’s struggle continuing, Mourinho decided to roll the dice with Fozato, who eventually proved himself that he would never be able to play in meaningful matches.
If that scenario happens, Roma will find themselves out of the Champions League and possibly the Europa League again and return to the market for a goalkeeper in June for the fourth time in five seasons. Gillorossi is forced to pour bigger cash for a player like Cragno next summer, while they are stuck looking for a home for Patricio as they had to do last summer with Olsen and Lopez.
Fortunately, the worst-case scenario couldn’t be further from the truth. Patricio has proven more than capable of snuff even in the twilight of his career. He played all but one of the matches and played well. We’ve never been able to see much of Daniel Fozato, so it’s hard to say if he has what it takes to play the league’s goalkeeper.
But, in the end, that’s a good thing because it means Roma have had a steady presence in the net, achieved Europa League qualification, and won’t be in the market for another new goalkeeper this summer.
Since the goalkeeper position features a much smaller group of players than the other positions on the list, the report card section will be a bit shorter. However, that doesn’t make it any less important considering what Rome has dealt with among the sticks in recent seasons.
Statistics (Italian League)
- I played 52 matches
- 1.06 goals conceded per match
- 21 clean sheets
What could Roma have asked for more from Patricio this season? It was everything and more than the Giallorossi could expect when writing a check for Wolves for just over €10m. And he proved every cent well spent: 15 clean sheets in the league and 21 in all competitions speak volumes about his playing at the net. He’s been a constant presence that has missed Roma in the past three seasons. Not often brilliant, but always consistent, Patricio was a perfect fit for this gypsy team.
Next season predictions
Barring a sudden drop in form or injury, Patricio will once again be number one in Roma among the sticks as the club tries to build on this season’s League Cup. Given the performance of this season, there is no reason to believe that Patricio cannot play at a high level for at least one more season. However, it will be interesting to see if Mourinho gives him more matches given that Mile Svilar comes with more experience than Fozato.
Final score: 9 out of 10
Patricio has conceded very few bad goals this season. Sure, he’s had matches where he’s conceded two or three times, but that’s often due to poor defense rather than blunders on his part. Considering his performances in the Champions League final, Patricio is a big reason why Roma lifted the trophy. Olsen and Lopez may have tempered my expectations of goalkeepers, but I thought Patricio has been very good this season.
Statistics (all competitions)
- I played one game
- 2 goals allowed
- 3 saves
Fozato has started only one conference game this season, against CSKA Sofia, and has conceded twice. Other than that he would pull the proverbial shards from his rear end. I don’t think even in a best-case scenario we imagined the 24-year-old Brazilian would have played that little.
Next season predictions
With Svilar signed on a free transfer deal, the writing seems to be on the wall for Fuzato. The Brazilian is unlikely to be happy to be seated as a third goalkeeper and likely to move in the off-season. It’s a disappointing end to a Roma career that never took off, but not every unknown Brazilian will turn out to be the next Allison. Good luck to Fozato wherever next season ends.
Final grade: incomplete
It would be unfair to rank Fuzzato from one start all season, so we’ll give him an incomplete rating. Makes you wonder if he trained who – which Weak for not making another start here or there, but we’ll probably have to wait until he’s somewhere else to see if he has what it takes to be a regular starter in Serie A or elsewhere.
The goalkeeper is the position with the least rotation. However, Mourinho has taken that level to another level this season by playing with Rui Patricio in all but one of his group stage matches in the Conference League. This speaks volumes about how good Patricio is. After Olsen and Lopez struggled for the past three seasons, it was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Along the same lines, the fact that Fozato played so little may also serve as an indictment against him. Fortunately, Patricio was everything Roma could hope for and was a key component of Mourinho’s refitted defence. We’ll see if Mile Svilar can take some of those minutes off the Portuguese veteran next season, but for now, Roma are in good hands with Patricio.