Roma have never exactly been known for their crop of goalkeeping talent. Let’s not forget, this is the same club where creatures such as Gianluca Curci, Maarten Stekelburg, and Mauro Goicoechea once inhabited. Now, fast forward to today…2017. Roma have, arguably for the first time, two goalkeepers who could both potentially be placed in the Top 10 of the best stoppers in all of Italy. And also for the first time in quite awhile, Roma are tasked with developing a young goalkeeper who is already an established international.
Alisson Ramses Becker is only 24 years old. He moved to Roma last summer for a modest fee, heavy expectations, and with a bit of criticism from fans, who some thought was a waste of money due to the likely arrival of Wojciech Szczesny, again, on loan for a second straight season.
In the early part of the season, it appeared that it would take either an injury or a miracle for the Brazilian to break into Spalletti’s preferred eleven. And who could blame Spalletti if that actually was the case? Szczesny was brilliant for the Giallorossi last season and has brought a sense of assuredness and security at the back that Roma have lacked for a long time. However, during this time when his match-time was meager, Alisson made his discontent well-known. He wanted to play and wanted to prove his worth, which is an understandable sentiment for a youngster who has moved to Europe for the first time in his career.
Finally, though, Spalletti handed the Brazilian a lifeline when he essentially gave Alisson the reins to Roma’s European campaign in the Europa League. Once this happened, Alisson hasn’t looked back. The Brazilian, to this point of the season, has started in 10 matches between the Coppa Italia and Europe. In those 10 matches, the Giallorossi have 4 clean sheets, an astounding figure. In the Europa League, Alisson is in the Top 7 for both clean sheets and saves. His performances in the two legs against Villarreal? Masterful. And yet, given Alisson’s performances in the Europa League and Coppa Italia, Spalletti has been calm in giving Alisson the full-title of “number one”.
Meanwhile, Wojciech Szczesny has quietly gone from Arsenal outcast to one of the most reliable stoppers throughout Europe. No longer are the days of his immature, unreliable, and volatile personality. Now, Szczesny is a leader, who is committed to his craft. His professionalism has raised massively. Remember the days of Maarten Stekelenburg? Yes, the same guy who refused to learn Italian during the two seasons he played in the capital. That’s not Szczesny. The Polish international was able to speak basic Italian within a couple of weeks and is now able to hold a complete conversation in the language, although, he still tends to use a translator to ensure accuracy.
So Roma and Spalletti must continue this way. Allow Szczesny to be the one the Giallorossi lean on. Shield Alisson from the hot and pressure-laden environment of Rome while still allowing him to grow. Then, when the time inevitably comes this summer to permanently waive goodbye to Szczesny, inaugurate Alisson as Roma’s long-term goalkeeper because he deserves it…and he is ready.