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Gianluigi Buffon could reportedly delay his retirement by a year if Juventus still consider him to be “very important.”

According to Sport Mediaset (h/t Football Italia), Buffon was spotted talking to Inter Milan sporting director Piero Ausilio prior to Juve’s 0-0 draw with them on Saturday, and it is believed the goalkeeper told him he could continue playing in Turin beyond the end of the season provided he’s still a valuable asset to the team.

The 39-year-old had previously expressed plans to retire after the 2018 World Cup:

Italy’s failure to reach the tournament has brought an early end to Buffon’s international career, though that may have little impact on his decision to hang up his gloves at the end of the season.

Juventus’ success in the UEFA Champions League this year could make a difference, though.

He told Sky Italia (h/t BBC Sport) in October:

“This is my last season and I’m pretty sure of the choices I make. One or two more years wouldn’t add or take away from what I’ve already achieved.

“The only way would be to win the Champions League. At that point, to try to win the Club World Cup.”

The veteran is yet to win the Champions League, meaning he hasn’t competed in the Club World Cup.

Despite his age, he remains a force to be reckoned with in goal, and he’s still among the best in his position in the world.

Buffon finished behind only Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar in the voting for the 2017 Ballon d’Or, and beIN Sports’ Tancredi Palmeri believes he deserved to be higher:

He is still picking up other individual awards, too, per Serie A expert James Horncastle:

The Italian is yet to show much sign of decline, if any, but Juventus are nevertheless planning for his succession.

The Bianconeri recruited Wojciech Szczesny in the summer and have used him ahead of the team’s most important games this season to keep Buffon fresh, and it appears he’ll be taking over as the No. 1 next season.

Unless his form tails off, Buffon could still be an asset to the club next year, but finishing this season will allow him to go out on top, and it seems he’ll most likely take that option.  

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