“Selling players isn’t a problem, buying poorly is”. The famous last words of now former Roma sporting director Ramon Monchi, while being completely true, have come back to haunt the Giallorossi this season in what has been nothing short of a disappointing campaign for the capital club.
You can certainly blame injuries, the wrong tactics and a poor attitude for Roma’s problems this season and make the case that any or all of these are reason the team currently sits sixth in the Serie A table and is at risk of missing out on Champions League football for the first time since the 2012/2013 season. However, there is no denying that the decision to replace Alisson Becker with Swedish international Robin Olsen has been one of the several factors that has negatively impacted Roma’s campaign.
Olsen arrived in the Eternal City this summer following a strong showing at the World Cup for a fee of €8.5 million plus €3.5 million in bonuses from Copenhagen. The Swede started his tenure in Rome with a clean sheet and superb debut in the Giallorossi’s 1-0 victory against Torino in the first match-day. From there, though, it was all downhill.
Despite a handful of strong performances, in particular one against reigning European champions Real Madrid – Olsen has been nothing short of a nightmare for Roma. His penchant for making silly errors, his inability to come off his line at the proper time and his lack of communication with his defenders has made him arguably one of the worst purchases in Roma’s recent history.
The Swede has managed only four clean sheets this season in 27 appearances, an astoundingly bad figure for a club that has Champions League aspirations. Olsen’s uninspiring displays even led to newly appointed interim manager Claudio Ranieri dropping him following the Giallorossi’s 4-1 hammering at the hands of Napoli.
It’s worth noting that Olsen was undoubtedly a victim of Eusebio Di Francesco’s unorganised and putrid defence, one of the factors which ultimately led to his sacking. However, anyone who has watched the Giallorossi since Olsen was replaced by Antonio Mirante cannot deny that the team looks much better, composed, and reassured with the former-Parma man in between the sticks.
Given how strong Roma have been in defence in recent weeks, you have to scratch your head and wonder why it took two different managers so long to drop Olsen, who is now likely to leave Rome this summer. So who could replace him as the new #1 in the Capital?
Antonio Mirante has played his role incredibly well, but he certainly isn’t the long-term solution required. Roma have already held talks for Cagliari’s Alessio Cragno and have also been rumored to be interested in Empoli’s Bartłomiej Drągowski – two names that on the surface seem underwhelming. Torino’s Salvatore Sirigu, who has been one of the strongest in all of Italy this season, is another who has been linked to the Giallorossi in recent weeks and certainly has the pedigree and experience warranted at a club like Roma.
So while it remains to be seen who Roma will use their “do-over” card for when they find a replacement for Robin Olsen, it’s clear that the goalkeeper position will be addressed by the Giallorossi this summer.
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