Alessandro Di Marco/Associated Press
Gianluigi Buffon is reportedly close to agreeing a move to Paris Saint-Germain following his departure from Juventus.
According to Sky in Italy (h/t Sky Sports), the legendary goalkeeper has held talks with the French giants about a possible move. Buffon played his final game for Juventus on Saturday, bringing an end to a remarkable 17-year stay with the club.
Prior to that match with Hellas Verona, Buffon confirmed his intention to leave the Turin outfit at the end of the campaign. Surprisingly, he added he wasn’t going to retire from football, prompting speculation about his future.
PSG have emerged as potential suitors and, as relayed by Sky Sports, in a recent interview with L’Equipe, the president of the Parisian club Nasser Al-Khelaifi was full of praise for the Italian icon.
“We have [Alphonse] Areola, he’s our No. 1,” he said. “For sure [that will be the case next season]. Buffon is a fantastic goalkeeper, he’s very charismatic and is a true gentleman. I’m sure all the clubs want him.”
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While he may be 40 years old, Buffon remains one of the best goalkeepers on the planet, having helped Juve win the Serie A title and the Coppa Italia again this season. As noted by Match of the Day, the Italian was given a tremendous send off by the club:
Match of the Day @BBCMOTD
In the 63rd minute, Gianluigi Buffon says his farewell.
Hugs with team-mates and opponents alike, adulation and tears in the crowd.
A guard of honour is formed as he makes his way off the pitch.
It appears as though Buffon still believes he has something to offer at the highest level, though, and the chance to move to PSG is an intriguing challenge at this point in his career.
In terms of experience the Ligue 1 side couldn’t ask for anyone better. Buffon has been a pillar of consistency at the base of the Juventus and Italy teams for almost two decades, showcasing leadership and skill for his sides.
For some, the prospect of him donning the jersey of another team aside from Juventus will be peculiar. Football writer David Amoyal commented on why he feels Buffon has opted for a new challenge now:
David Amoyal @DavidAmoyal
I have a feeling had Italy qualified for the World Cup allowing Buffon to play in his sixth, it would have ensured Gigi retired as a Juve player because it would have given him a satisfying end to his career
Even at 40, Buffon strikes as the type of character that remains ambitious. And the veteran does have something in common with PSG, with neither able to get over the line in the UEFA Champions League.
Buffon played in three finals with Juventus, losing them all, while PSG have failed to get beyond the quarter-finals despite the significant investment made in recent years. Mundial took a stab at predicting how Buffon’s time in Paris may go:
Gianluigi Buffon in Paris. Baguette under one arm, L’Équipe under the other, whistling “Non, je ne regrette rien” into the breeze off the Seine. Two years, $15 mill, and a Champions League medal later, and it’s back to his vineyards on the heel of Italia. Perfetto, grazie, ciao.
Areola had a decent season at PSG, but in a star-studded XI there’s no doubt the French champions could upgrade this position.
Given PSG are one of the richest teams in the world, some of their supporters would prefer to see the club go out and spend big on a younger long-term fix for the position. Even so, to pick up a goalkeeper of such class, experience and prestige for nothing would make Buffon an exciting acquisition.