Thomas Strakosha: Lazio’s saving grace
A Greek-born Albanian, Thomas Strakosha has been one of the highlights and rising stars of Lazio over the course of the last few seasons. The son of goalkeeper Fotaq Strakosha, the footballer started his career with Greek side Panionios in 2011 and after just one year, Claudio Lotito and Igli Tare signed him for €75 thousand. An intended signing for Lotito’s second team Salernitana, Strakosha defied all limits, breaking through the ranks of the Primavera – where he was a regular starter – and earning a starting spot in the first team in the summer of 2017.
2017/18 & 2018/19
Over the course of the 2017/18 season, Strakosha appeared in 53 matches playing 4800 minutes of football in all competitions for Lazio. He missed just three matches which came in the Europa League, showing his ability to remain match-fit and his terrific conditioning, strength, and mentality. He conceded 63 goals while keeping 17 clean sheets over the campaign. As a result of his terrific performance for the Biancoceleste, when international duty called, Strakosha was summoned by the Albanian national team. He was also nominated for the Albanian Sports Ambassador award by the Albanian Sports Federation – an award given to reward the men and women who carry the Albanian flag high around the world.
This past season, Strakosha appeared in 44 matches for a total of 3990 minutes of football. Once again, he played in nearly every Serie A TIM match for the club, missing just three matches due to injury at the end of the campaign. In addition, he was present for every Coppa Italia match, the domestic competition that was won by the Biancocelesti with the assistance of his encouraging displays. In all competitions, he conceded 46 goals and kept 13 clean sheets, making over 105 total saves in both the championship and European competition.
At 24 years of age, Strakosha has made 94 Serie A TIM appearances and 121 total appearances with the Biancocelesti’s senior team. Since being given the opportunity to play at the highest level, he has cemented his spot at the helm of Lazio’s goal as the number one goalkeeper. Playing with confidence, passion, and composure, he is a reliable and consistent part of the team who assists in Lazio’s success.
The first key attribute that allows Strakosha to perform day-in-day-out is his positioning: he is able to give himself time to protect his goal from the incoming threat by putting himself in a position relative to the opponent in which he is able to see the ball at every progression in the attack.
The second attribute relevant to Strakosha’s terrific game is his awareness: by keeping tabs on where the footballer with the ball is in addition to the other attackers on the opposition’s side, the Albanian understands when it is right to parry the ball towards the corner flag away from his goal or retain the ball, keeping his rebounds limited.
Finally, the third and most important aspect to Strakosha’s game is his reflexes: he is able to get to the ground fast and make saves that most keepers would have a tremendous amount of difficulty making. With Simone Inzaghi playing a 3-5-1-1, Lazio becomes very vulnerable on counters and he has to remain sharp and alert at all times, coming off his line to rush players and make the impossible, possible.
Truly and quite literally a saving grace, Strakosha continues to make key saves, being the wall at the heart of Inzaghi’s defense. A contract with the Roman club until 2022 and a current market value of €20 million, with several interested parties – including Arsenal and Tottenham – he is one to keep an eye out for this summer transfer window.