If Thomas Strakosha wanted to show Maurizio Sarri why he, rather than veteran Pepe Reina, should be starting between the sticks for Lazio, he could have done without this.
With 66 minutes on the clock and the score goalless during last night’s Europa League clash at Galatasaray, the Albania international goalkeeper committed an error that not only cost Lazio a point, it may also cost him a place in Sarri’s first-choice XI for months to come.
As a sliced Manuel Lazzari clearance plummeted towards the earth, Strakosha attempted to catch the ball rather than pat it harmlessly over the bar.
With the benefit of hindsight, he’ll probably wish he’d never bothered. Because, instead of dealing with the situation like a top-level goalkeeper should, the Greek-born goalie fumbled the simplest of gathers against the post and into the back of his own net.
“The game was under control (until Strakosha’s mistake),” said former Chelsea and Juventus coach Sarri at full time.
“Unfortunately, errors are part of the sport and we paid the price for that tonight.”
West Ham and Southampton may be relieved not to have snapped up Strakosha
Not so long ago, Strakosha was emerging as a £25 million transfer target for Premier League duo Southampton and West Ham United amid claims he was refusing to extend his contract at the Stadio Olimpico.
But after performing a dramatic U-turn and opting to stay put instead, obviously believing he could oust 39-year-old Reina as Lazio’s go-to goalie, Strakosha now looks further than ever from securing a first-team berth.
West Ham brought in Alphonse Areola from Paris Saint-Germain instead – as reliable a back-up as you could possibly hope to find – while Southampton are already putting plans in place to sign a shot-stopper in 2022.
On last night’s evidence, Strakosha may struggle to force his way back on to Premier League radars.