Officially a decision hasn’t yet been taken, but the busy fixture schedule that Roma are about to embark on suggests the need for a more precise choice to be made. Luciano Spalletti has consequently started studying Roma’s fixture programme from the point of view of his goalkeepers, as he is still undecided in the choice between Alisson and Szczesny.
In the 4 games so far, the coach has preferred to go with the reliability of the Polish number 1, who was only forced to watch the first game against Porto in the Champions League from the sidelines, having only just completed his deal to stay in the capital for another year a few days previously. The two league games and the second leg in the Champions League at the Olimpico were then handed to Szczesny, who was one of the standout players of the Spalletti revolution during the second half of last season.
Now the road leads ahead to 7 games in 21 days for the Giallorossi, who are now preparing themselves for their forced adventure in the Europa League. It’s a scenario which everyone at Trigoria would have liked to avoid for a million reasons, but at this stage it could in fact make the coach’s choices easier. Despite the claims to the contrary, it’s a big chance for the goalkeepers to be split between the competitions (a method used by many European teams, especially in the last few years), and this change seems to be the most feasible answer. The bigger games will probably be handed to Szczesny, starting with Sunday’s game against Sampdoria at the Olimpico as the league starts up again, while Alisson will then take to the pitch again the following Thursday in the first group stage game against Czech side Viktoria Plzen.
There could also be a simple alternation when the Giallorossi are forced to play 3 league games in a row (with a midweek game against Crotone scheduled) before the second group stage game against the Romanians of Astra Giurgiu. In fact, it will be important for Spalletti not to let the keepers lose their match sharpness, in particular for Alisson who is day by day gaining the confidence and the esteem of the coaching staff and who showed during the summer the same personality and technique that won over Walter Sabatini a year ago.
The decision to have two top quality keepers in the squad also had an effect on the transfer market, in particular on the decision whether or not to bring in Sirigu, who was prepared to be second choice in order that he could move to the capital. Now that this indecision has been overcome, the coach has set out with his preferred option of two potential first choice keepers but will also keep the future in mind when picking his teams: Szczesny will definitely return to Arsenal next year, and Alisson is hoping to play in a certain amount of games in order to gain experience and knowledge ahead of next season, when he will be first choice to all intents and purposes. 15 games or so will also allow him not to lose any ground in the Brazilian national team. Up to now, there hasn’t been any suggestion of any discontent despite the competitive nature of the two players, though their characters are very different, but it’s something will inevitably be noticed eventually. “I’ve spent two games on the bench but I’m relaxed at the moment,” were the Brazilian’s last words on the matter.
For the moment, so is Spalletti, because – as he made clear last season – no one should feel assured of a place in the team. “Whoever is in the best form will play,” was the statement repeatedly made by the coach. But when it comes to the goalkeeping question, it’s already time for answers.
This article is a translation – the original was written by Adriano Serafini for Il Tempo.