After a season in Ligue 1 with Paris St Germain, Juventus and Italy legend, Gianluigi Buffon has returned to the Bianconeri for what many expect will be his last season in professional football.
Next summers Olympic Games in Tokyo had been suggested as the place that Buffon would bow out but Italy failed to qualify after being eliminated in the group stages of the UEFA Under-21 Championships. It now looks like the goalkeepers' final appearance will be in the colours of his beloved Juventus.
Full trophy cabinet?
Buffon first joined the Old Lady in 2001 after six years with Parma. He won the UEFA Cup, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana with the Gialloblu before adding nine Serie A titles, one Serie B, four Coppa Italia’s and five Supercoppa Italiana’s with Juve. He added further to his haul in Paris by winning another league medal and the French Super Cup.
Buffon was the goalkeeper for the Italian national team when the Azzurri won the World Cup in 2006 but there is still one trophy that he craves and that’s the Champions League. He has reached the final three times but has lost to AC Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid so he will be keen to have one last shot at adding it to his list of honours.
Winning the Champions League isn’t Buffon’s only reason for a return to Juve. He is just eight Serie A appearances short of Paolo Maldini’s record. The former AC Milan defender played 647 games and Buffon will feel that he can surpass that.
Will Buffon start?
It’s likely that Buffon will not be first choice for Juventus. Wojciech Szczesny, who served as Buffon’s backup, has the jersey for now. Over the last few years, Juve have consistently rotated goalkeepers by allowing the first choice opportunities to rest. However, that was under Max Allegri so it remains to be seen if Maurizio Sarri will follow that approach.
There has been no official confirmation yet but it’s expected that the deal included an offer for Buffon to stay in Turin next season in a non-playing role.
Whether that’s as a coach or in a directorial role is unknown but it seems the goalkeeper has already been working on bringing new talent to the club with fellow free agent signing from PSG, Adrien Rabiot, saying it was Buffon that convinced him to join the club.
Juventus have been completely dominant in Italy but it’s European success that the club craves. They already signed a number of key players last season with Cristiano Ronaldo and Leonardo Bonucci arriving.
This summer Buffon, Rabiot and Arsenal midfielder, Aaron Ramsey have arrived. They are also expected to win the race for Ajax and Netherlands star, Matthijs de Ligt which will see them among the favourites to win the Champions League and there are not many places Buffon could go to that would give him a better chance to finally win it than back home in Turin.