Saturday March 31 2018
Race is on to fill Buffon's gloves

Gianluigi Buffon will soon be ready to hand over the Italy gloves, but Richard Hall wonders if it’ll be to Gigio Donnarumma or Mattia Perin?

Back in September, ex-Milan star Demetrio Albertini challenged Gianluigi Donnarumma to match Gigi Buffon’s achievements. “He is definitely ready to replace Buffon, I believe he is a great goalkeeper and a brilliant talent”.  Albertini is not alone in his presumption: Buffon retires, Donnarumma takes his place, one child prodigy to another. It’s simple, no? The belief may be valid, as the Milan youngster’s ability has been proven again and again. Against Fiorentina this season the 18-year-old notched up his 100th appearance for the Rossoneri, an impressive feat and one that (should he still be in Milan) could see him matching the likes of Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi for time served.

Donnarumma in his short yet distinguished career has kept his place because of his superlative ability. He has the promise to be one the best in his generation and his physical stature in itself is years beyond his tender age. His reach on crosses and his ability to get to shots is made easier because of it and his decisiveness is something that many goalkeepers don’t develop until later in their career. Look at Wojciech Szczesny and how he has grown (quickly) into relying and trusting his decisions instead of falling back on his athleticism. This took much coaching and time.

For all his fundamental goalkeeping skills and the fact that even Dino Zoff thinks he is destined to be one of the greats, it must not be forgotten that Donnarumma is still learning. All goalkeepers make errors and his are few and far between, but he still relies very much on the centre-backs for instruction. One criticism is that, whilst his distribution is good, he can sometimes put the less experienced defenders under pressure and doesn’t deal with back-passes well. Still, this is a small issue in the wider scheme of things.

For all the talent Donnarumma has, he cannot rest on his laurels. Before Italy’s game against England, Luigi Di Biagio admitted that the decision to not play Mattia Perin caused him “a bit of a headache”. The Genoa goalkeeper is arguably Donnarumma’s equal and perhaps has a more rounded game. The fact that he has stayed at Genoa and has also been out through some cruciate ligament injuries in this time has seen him fly under the radar somewhat, but he is certainly going to be competition when Buffon eventually retires. There was no surprise that the 25-year old shot stopper was lined up by Milan as Gigi’s replacement when it seemed as though the latter would leave last summer.

Perin, at 6’2 is a refined and athletic keeper with an incredible upward trajectory that allows him to dominate his area and take crosses. This incredible spring can also see him fly into making some spectacular saves, though he doesn’t have to do that often, as his sense of position is extremely good. Perhaps his most notable quality (and one he uses a lot at Genoa) is his ability to get up from the first save and be ready for the second shot. He certainly gets more practice than Donnarumma in that area and can be thanked for helping Genoa stay in Serie A on more than one occasion.

Without mentioning Alex Meret, or the fact that Simone Scuffet may one day return to form, Italy is packed with other goalkeeping options. Donnarumma and Perin are two of the best and either would do the Azzurri proud long term. Perhaps if Napoli make their move on Perin, then he will gain even more exposure and may really be talked about in the same breath as Gigio.

The future is bright between the posts for Italy, but the question of who replaces Buffon is far from decided.

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit:

Have your say...
There are few national teams with ICONIC players, so thanks the Lord for Gigi BUFFON !!!

A LIVING LEGEND, a "portabandiera"
on the 1st April, 2018 at 10:51pm
No! Balotelli isn't the solution. Balotelli needs to stay in france and as far away from the national team as possible!
Back to topic....
I think perin is the best option. Donna is abit clumsy, i think we need to spend less time trying to compare the ages of the new Gks to when buffon started, lets work with what have. I think we all agree that Buffon is a once in life time great a master of his trade like Maldini, Baggio and Baresi. Let Work with best we have and get the best out of them
on the 1st April, 2018 at 9:10am
Perin is my choice. Donnarumma is a fantastic talent, and that`s just it: He`s a talent. He is among italys best goalkeepers, but he need to know his defenders very good to be good himself. That is an age thing. He still needs coaching/help when it comes to certain situations, and that`s very normal at that age. If you look at a lot of the young "superstars" in football, they`re great technical and all that, but football involves much thinking and experience as well :-) He`ll be no 1 soon anyway
on the 1st April, 2018 at 8:44am
Donnarumma certainly has a good prospect to be a the best goalkeeper in the future and in fact he's still 19. But just like common young player, he sometimes makes error and hopefully he will learn from it.

Perin seems to be more mature, but he needs to move to a bigger club (Napoli is a good choice) to raise his level of the game as well as to experience the different environment and pressure in a big club.

It's good that Italy never run out of best goalkeepers.
on the 1st April, 2018 at 1:59am
Mattia Perin as his positioning better than Danuromma. I know it is not relevant to the subject but Balotelli should return back to the Nazionale, as he is different this time and he has that clinical finish. Looking at Azzurri last games; there is a problem with scoring goals. Football is all about goals. The next CT must focus on the striker issues! Immobile & Belotti are’nt enough. I must raise my concern; goalkeepers Italy is in good shape but strikers not! There has to be a solution.
on the 31st March, 2018 at 4:21pm
It should be Perin.

Donnarumma is overrated, much more prone to error, and clearly still hasn't matured. Not to mention he has a serpent of an agent that will definitely affect his mindset.

Perin suffers from none of that, he is more consistent. Hopefully he'll stay clear of injuries. He is the future.
on the 31st March, 2018 at 2:56pm
it be fitting that donnarumma would take the goalkeeping spot someone is was born after buffon club and international debut you have a narrative of a new generation taking over.

Still i would also offer cragno into this discussion he has shown his quality in the past couple of season along with sportiello.

still perin is quality and his agent isn't raiola he does issues with injuries causing him to lose 445 days through injury along with missing 38 games a lot for a 25 year old.
on the 31st March, 2018 at 2:20pm
At this point in time I think Perrin is a better GK and should start. Donna has promise, but he is a bit over rated considering that he also makes a lot of mistakes. He might well develop into a superstar keeper, but for now he should concentrate on developing while Perrin should be playing.
on the 31st March, 2018 at 1:47pm
ciao amici!
ITALIA is lucky to have GIGI BUFFON!
his presence is truly a blessing!!
he has raised the bar up so high that I don't think we would have anybody like him for a while!
Donnarumma is a good goalie but never exceptionally good!
Saturday we will see who is better if Buffon plays!
on the 31st March, 2018 at 4:42am
As a Milan fan, I don't trust Donnarumma to make the simple saves. He often parries the ball instead of catching it giving the opposition a second chance at goal. While he makes spectacular saves from time-to-time, he also lets in weak goals and can be beat at the near post. I actually prefer Perin who is more polished, reliable in goal and still young. If healthy, there is no doubt in my mind that he is the better choice to lead the Nazionale.
on the 31st March, 2018 at 4:22am
Perin should be the Number 1 for now. He is currently better than Donnarumma and deserves it. In a couple of years though, if Donnarumma maintains his upward trajectory then he will certainty take the number 1 jersey, or whatever number he chooses. With Meret, Consigli, Sportiello and Plizzari waiting in the wings Italy should not have an issue with goalkeepers for quite some time.
on the 31st March, 2018 at 1:23am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.