Player Analysis: Alessio Cragno, Cagliari’s Potential Savior

Italy is one of a few nations in the world that can boast about its high-level goalkeeping pedigree. Throughout their history, the Azzurri have delivered some of the finest shot-stoppers the game has ever seen. Stefano Tacconi, Walter Zenga, Dino Zoff and Gianluigi Buffon are some iconic names the Italian national team could always rely on to stand between the posts.

Fortunately, like every great football nation, Italy have carried this tradition into the modern era. As of now, there are 20 Italian goalkeepers playing in Serie A, and Cagliari’s Alessio Cragno is one of them. The 26-year-old Fiesole-born goalkeeper has been Cagliari’s number one choice shot-stopper for the last fours seasons. Although the Islanders from Sardinia have been struggling this season and are currently involved in the relegation fight, Cragno has been one of their better performers.

This scout report in collaboration with The Scouting App will delve deeper into Cragno’s player profile, outlining his strengths and weaknesses, as well as analyze his performances of the 2020/21 Serie A season so far.

Player Overview

Cragno started his playing career in Brescia and made his first-team debut in 2012 in a Serie B game against Modena. In the following season, the Italian established his place between the sticks as a first-choice goalkeeper and finished the Serie B campaign with 30 matches under his belt.

After two seasons at Brescia, Cragno made his first career move in the summer of 2014 as he signed for the Serie A side Cagliari, penning a four-year deal for a fee of around €1 million. That season, the Italian made 16 appearances in all competitions for Cagliari but was sent out on loan to Serie B side Lanciano in January 2016.

After spending six months at Lanciano, Cragno was loaned out again in the summer of the same year to Serie B newcomers Benevento. The Cagliari loanee instantly became Benevento’s first-choice shot-stopper and played a major part in a club’s promotion to Italy’s top flight through play-offs.

Cragno returned to Cagliari for the 2018-19 Serie A season, where he stood out as one of the best goalkeepers in the league. The Italian shot-stopper made all 38 appearances as the starting goalkeeper in Serie A, making the most saves in the division with 152. As a reward, Cragno was named the best goalkeeper of Serie A by the Italian Association of Goalkeepers Trainers.

In September 2018, Cragno received his first senior international call-up for Italy’s two opening UEFA Nations League matches against Poland and Portugal. Two years later, Cragno made his senior international debut in the second half of a friendly game against Moldova. In 2019, Cragno signed a new five-year deal with Cagliari, which will keep him at the club until 2024.

Player Profile

Cragno is the 26-year-old Italian goalkeeper who plays for Serie A club Cagliari. A calm and composed shot-stopper is currently playing his fifth season in Italy’s top-flight, having made a total of 124 senior appearances and 437 saves during that time. Additionally, he has kept 23 clean sheets over the five seasons in Serie A.

Over the last few seasons, Cragno has received a reputation for being one of the best shot-stoppers in the league. Cragno’s top-class reflexes for stopping the ball going into the back of the net is his greatest asset that is first and foremost the most important attribute of any good goalkeeper.

The Italian goalkeeper has tremendous quality concerning all aspects of shot-stopping. He shows great reflexes and reactions when stopping both close-range and long-range shots with his hands, as well as his feet. Likewise, Cragno has good plasticity regarding his body, as he has often showcased his ability to make incredible saves at full stretch, preventing the ball from going into the top corner. Besides, the Cagliari shot-stopper is also comfortable with catching the ball rather than palming it away on every occasion.

Cragno’s other top qualities mainly include the physical side of his game. The 26-year-old is super agile and possesses good acceleration, something that is of paramount importance for a modern goalkeeper. For this reason, he is able to quickly go down on either side when dealing with low shots, whether it be a close range or long range attempts from the opposition. Lastly, Cragno’s awareness of the goal and positioning on the line are also some of his best attributes.

Nevertheless, even the best goalkeepers in the world have weaknesses in their game, and Cragno is no exception. One of the key areas where the Cagliari goalkeeper falls a little short is his size. The Italian is 184cm tall, which is relatively short for a goalkeeper and does not have the strongest of bodies either (78kg). However, on occasions, Cragno’s lack of height serves for his benefit, as it naturally results in increased levels of agility and flexibility.

On the other hand, the Cagliari goalkeeper still needs to work on his distribution and the anticipation aspect when coming off his line. His hesitance in decision making when it comes to rushing out of his line to close the angle of the goal and make it difficult for the attacker to score is one of the goalkeeping components he still has to work on in the next few years.

Serie A 2020-21 Season

What we see on the pitch comes to fruition when we delve into some data. Cragno’s top-class shot-stopping ability has been reflected in statistics of this Serie A season so far, with the Cagliari keeper saving 72.1% of shots he faces against per game. It is a 4.6% higher save ratio compared to the rest of the Serie A goalkeepers.

Despite having kept only 4 clean sheets in this Serie A campaign so far, Cragno on average concedes fewer goals than he is expected to concede, according to Post-Shot Expected Goals (PSxG) metric. The Italian goalie so far has accumulated a positive +0.11 PSxG-GA (Post-Shot Expected Goals minus Goals Allowed) score, meaning that on average Cragno saves Cagliari 0.11 goals per game. It is a 0.21 higher score compared to the rest of the Serie A goalkeepers, who average -0.10 PSxG-GA per game. Besides, the Italian international also has an imposing cross-stopping ability, on average stopping 10.2% crosses per game.

Statistical analysis of Cragno’s performances in 2020/21 Serie A season


Overall, Cragno is a solid goalkeeper with few weaknesses but is not quite up to the elite level of shot-stoppers just yet. Perhaps, the elite echelon of goalkeepers are purely distinguished by their ability to play a sweeper-keeper role as an eleventh outfield player.

A question mark can be also placed around the fact that Cagliari are one of the relegation strugglers in Serie A; therefore, it is almost given that Cragno will be facing a great number of shots during the game, as the opposing teams usually play on the front foot and dominate the game against Cagliari, thus creating loads of chances in front of Cragno’s goal.