Roma goalkeeper review: Rui Patricio has proven to be a perfect fit

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From 2015 to 2018, Roma were in good hands. No, not because their home and auto policies were covered by Allstate, but because they had two of Europe’s most trusted goaltenders between the sticks. For the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, Wojciech Szczęsny protected Rome’s goal well enough before his loan from Arsenal expired and he moved on to Juventus. Despite that, he was soon forgotten once Roma found someone better: Alisson Becker.

Alisson was from another world leading Roma to the Champions League semi-finals of the 2017-18 season. Those memories will live with Romanisti forever, but given the Giallorossi’s financial constraints during Pallotta’s time, it was impossible for Roma to turn down more than €70m for Brazilian Don Draper. And just like that, the Giallorossi were back in the market for a keeper.

Monchi’s mistakes as DS in the Italian capital are well documented, but his replacement of Alisson by Robin Olsen stands out like a sore thumb. Monchi broke one of the cardinal rules of the transfer market and hoarded the money for Olsen after performing well for Sweden at the 2018 World Cup. It turned out to be a disaster and probably cost Roma a return to the Champions League.

To cover up that mistake on Olsen, Roma lost over €20m on Pau Lopez, a keeper who seemed to meet Paulo Fonseca’s need for a ball-playing keeper, just a season later. The problem is that Lopez was struggling to do his main job as a goalkeeper: stopping shots. In the second year he showed some improvement, but the writing was on the wall and Lopez followed Fonseca out the door last summer.

Enter Tiago Pinto and Jose Mourinho. And therefore enter Rui Patricio. Patricio entered with little fanfare and quite a bit of criticism from some, even calling himself the Portuguese Antonio Mirante. So, while you probably already know how things went with Patricio, let’s take a look back at our pre-season view before judging Roma’s goalkeeper position.

Best case scenario in August

In the best-case scenario, Patricio is doing what Olsen and Lopez couldn’t do during their time at the Stadio Olimpico: limiting mistakes, making the saves he’s supposed to make, occasionally pulling a rabbit out of his hat and not not cost Roma. dots on the board.

Roma lacked a goalkeeper who inspired confidence and could do the job from week to week. patrick has to be that guy and he showed the ability to do it with some big saves in Roma’s recent friendly against Porto.

Patricio will hopefully find himself under a little less fire than Lopez and Mirante did last season with a more solid defensive approach in front of him thanks to the arrival of Mourinho. Moreover, an additional year of experience for Gianluca Mancini, Max Kumbulla and Roger Ibañez, as well as a healthy Chris Smalling should hopefully make things a bit easier for him.

To that end, the best-case scenario actually played out. Patricio did the things described in the first paragraph to a T. He also proved to be a stable presence behind Roma’s backline and was a big reason for the drop in goals conceded in Mourinho’s more defensive setup. . It really feels good to see that my hopes for the best have outweighed my fear of the worst case.

The worst case scenario in August

Worst-case scenario (barring injury), Patricio turns out to be just an older version of Olsen and Lopez. A guy who is no more than average and costs Roma vital points along the way. As the season progresses and Patricio continues to struggle, Mourinho decides to roll the dice with Fuzato, who ultimately proves himself no match for meaningful games.

If this scenario unfolds, Roma will find themselves out of the Champions League and possibly the Europa League again and be back on the market for a goalkeeper in June for the fourth time in five seasons. The Giallorossi are forced to spend more money on a player like Cragno next summer, while they are stuck looking for a home for Patricio as they have had to do in recent summers with Olsen and Lopez.

Fortunately, the worst-case scenario couldn’t have been further from the truth. Patricio has more than proven himself up to the task even in the twilight of his career. He played all but one game in all competitions and performed well. However, we’ve never seen much of Daniel Fuzato, so it’s hard to say if he has what it takes to play top-flight keeper.

But, in the end, it’s quite a good thing because it means Roma had a consistent presence in the net, secured Europa League qualification and won’t be looking for another starting goalkeeper this summer.

Since the goalie position has a much smaller pool of players than the other positions on the list, the bulletin section will be a bit shorter. Nonetheless, that doesn’t make him any less important considering what Roma have dealt with between the sticks in recent seasons.

Rui Patricio

Photo by ANP via Getty Images

Statistics (Series A)

  • 52 matches played
  • 1.06 goals conceded per game
  • 21 clean sheets

Summary of the season

What more could Roma have asked of Patricio this season? He was everything and more than the Giallorossi could have expected when writing Wolves a check for just over €10m. And he’s proven that every penny is well spent: 15 clean sheets in the league and 21 in all competitions says a lot about his game in front of the net. He was the stable presence that Roma lacked in the last three seasons. Not often spectacular, but always stable, Patricio was a perfect fit for this Roma.

Prospects for the next season

Barring a sudden drop in form or injury, Patricio will once again be Roma’s number one between the sticks as the club attempt to build on this season’s Conference League trophy. Considering the performances this season, there’s no reason to believe that Patricio won’t be able to play at a high level for at least one more season. Still, it will be interesting to see if Mourinho gives him a few more games given that Mile Svilar arrives with more experience than Fuzato.

Final score: 9 out of 10

Patricio has conceded very few bad goals this season. Sure, he had matches where he conceded two or three, but that often came down to poor defending rather than blunders on his part. And given his performance in the ECL final, Patricio is one of the main reasons why Roma hoisted a cup. Maybe my goalkeeping expectations were watered down by Olsen and Lopez, but I thought Patricio was very good this season.

Daniel Fuzato

AS Roma training session

Photo by Fabio Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

Statistics (all competitions)

  • 1 match played
  • 2 goals allowed
  • 3 stops

Summary of the season

Fuzato has started just one Conference League game this season against CSKA Sofia, conceding twice. Other than that, he was removing the proverbial shards from his rear end. I don’t think even at the best of times we imagined the 24-year-old Brazilian would have played so little.

Prospects for the next season

With Svilar signing on a free transfer, the writing is apparently on the wall for Fuzato. The Brazilian is unlikely to be happy to be the third keeper and he will probably move on in the off-season. It’s a disappointing end to a Roma career that never took off, but not every unknown Brazilian will become the next Alisson. Good luck to Fuzato wherever he ends up next season.

Final grade: Incomplete

It would be unfair to rate Fuzato on a start throughout the season, so we’ll give him an incomplete rating. It makes you wonder if he trained this badly for not earning 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 top-flight starter in Italy or elsewhere.

The goalkeeper is the position with the least turnover. Nonetheless, Mourinho has taken that to another level this season by facing Rui Patricio in all but one of the Conference League group stage fixtures. That says a lot about the quality of Patricio. After enduring Olsen and Lopez for the past three seasons, he was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Along the same lines, the fact that Fuzato has played so little is probably also an indictment against him. Fortunately, Patricio was everything Roma could have hoped for and was a key cog in Mourinho’s revamped Roma defense. We’ll see if Mile Svilar can take some of those minutes from the Portuguese veteran next season, but for now Roma are in good hands with Patricio.


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