Buffon has been ever-present for the club since his £23m arrival in 2001, and is still the most expensive goalkeeper in the world. He has won the Serie A title with Juventus and the World Cup with Italy, where he has also amassed 100 caps. He is the undisputed best goalkeeper in the world and is worth double his price-tag. However after the nightmare season Juve have had, finishing a pathetic 7th place and with no Champions League football next season Buffon seems to be seriously considering leaving.
Buffon’s agent, Silvano Martina, believes his client is more than happy in Turin but should Juve start accepting bids for his services then England would be his preferred destination. He said: “I want to remind everyone that Buffon is under contract with Juve and that next season he will play at Juve.” He added: “When he was asked hypothetically where he would want to play if he left Juve, he always said his first choice would be England, but there is nothing else. He never said he would leave.”
However after such a disastrous season that Juventus’s have had Buffon would have to miss out on playing in the Champions League for a year, and really should that be acceptable to a player of his calibre? Well Buffon did in fact spend two years recently at Juve without playing in Europe and more importantly played for Juve in Serie B after they were demoted as a result of the infamous match-fixing scandal. To get loyalty like this from a player who could practically walk into any side in the world is virtually unheard of in today’s game, so if Buffon has stuck with Juve in darker times then why leave now?
The reason why Buffon might consider an exit now is because Juventus are in the middle of a transition and they are set to hire recently departed Sampdoria manager Luigi Del Neri as their next coach. With the majority of readers now probably saying ‘who?’ it’s no wonder Buffon could consider an exit. Juventus being the prestigious club they are should be appointing people like Hiddink or Benitez, managers who have a proven track record and have at least won something. Del Neri’s only great achievement was leading unfancied Sampdoria to 4th place in Serie A this season. Whilst this was an impressive feat it’s hardly the same as winning the league or a cup; and by appointing a manager who hasn’t won anything, it doesn’t fill you with any great confidence that he will be able to turn around Juve’s fortunes and make them competitive again.
Sadly likely Buffon’s exit looks set to mark the end of an era for Juventus; no longer will they be able constantly beating Real Madrid in the Champions League as they have done in recent years. The Serie A title will elude them again next year and before you know it they will become a fallen giant like Lazio, who this year battled relegation from the league. Juventus’ decline is only going to get worse with Buffon leaving.
As for his likely destination of the Premier League there are two clubs who best suit Buffon and they are Arsenal and Manchester United. The Gunners need for a new and established goalkeeper is no secret and with Arsene Wenger vowing to splash the cash this summer, what better way to fill the club and the fans with confidence then by signing Gigi Buffon. The instant they landed Buffon, the press and the public would start talking about Arsenal winning the league, that’s how much of impact his arrival would make. A goalkeeper of his magnitude can easily be the difference between a team finishing 2nd and a team finishing 1st.
As for Man United, Van Der Sar is approaching 40 this year and Tomasz Kuszczak as the only other recognised goalkeeper at the club now that Ben Foster looks set to join Birmingham. United are going to be in need of another ‘keeper but although Buffon would fit the bill perfectly, Sir Alex Ferguson has said that the club will be tightening the purse strings this summer and will only sign one player, so it’s unknown if Buffon will be that ‘one player’.
Manchester City are another possible option for Buffon, but as they have Shay Given and Joe Hart it wouldn’t be a necessary signing and with Buffon publicly saying that Man City aren’t a great club then you can imagine his future won’t be at Eastlands.
Wherever the Italian number one ends up this summer he will be a great success and will improve the club’s fortunes, sadly his future with Juventus looks to be all but over and with his departure so are Juve’s ambitions to be successful again.