Monday June 4 2018
Buffon right to reject swansong

Gigi Buffon’s decision to refuse an international swansong at the Juventus Stadium is the correct call, writes Richard Thomas.

When Italy take to the field at the Juventus Stadium for their third and final international friendly of the summer against the Netherlands this evening, they will do so once again without iconic goalkeeper Gigi Buffon.

The 40-year-old, who left Juventus last month and is reported to be in negotiations with Paris Saint-Germain, has yet to make his future intentions clear. Though at the time of writing it looks likely he will agree terms with the French champions, the possibility still remains that he could retire altogether. Should he opt to extend his playing career, it might not include internationals. As far as new Azzurri boss Roberto Mancini is concerned, the door remains open for a potential return to the fold.

But if Buffon, as expected, is not intending to resume his Azzurri career, he has made the correct decision to turn down the offer of a swansong appearance against the Dutch in Turin. The legacy he leaves and his status as one of world football’s greatest ever shot-stoppers will never be questioned, but Italy have now begun a new journey under Mancini and should be looking ahead to future challenges in the upcoming UEFA Nations League and Euro 2020 Qualifiers – not back at former glories.

The ideal scenario, of course, would have been Buffon bowing out on the crest of a wave at this summer’s World Cup – with the Azzurri having enjoyed success in Russia and the goalkeeper having become the first ever player to feature at six tournaments. As sporting history tells us, however, fairy-tale endings come few and far between even for its icons.

And so Buffon was unexpectedly deprived of one last tournament in his Azzurri legacy. Sweden’s 1-0 aggregate play-off win last November prompted the 40-year-old to immediately announce the end of his international career – eight months earlier than anyone would have anticipated. Although a great wave of sadness greeted the news and the circumstances in which it came, Buffon’s decision to go was both logical and inevitable.

If at that time it appeared Buffon and the Azzurri had made a clean break, the goalkeeper then reversed his decision and made himself available for March friendlies against Argentina and England, as uncertainty continued over whether or not he would retire altogether at the end of the season. Though part of Buffon’s change of heart came out of a sense of duty, his renewed presence in the squad in many ways mirrored the muddled thinking and prolonged state of limbo the Nazionale were in at the time.

Having been turned down by Carlo Ancelotti, the Azzurri handed the task of presiding over the early spring international double-header to interim boss Luigi Di Biagio. It was obvious the Under-21 Coach had little chance of securing the job full-time, while the extended inquisition into World Cup failure and the ocean of time until Italy’s next competitive fixture combined to ensure there was a limit to how productive the Azzurri could hope to be that week. In low-key circumstances, Buffon won his 176th cap by playing the full 90 minutes against the Argentines.

If it hadn’t already, this lengthy period of reflection and limbo should have ended with Mancini’s appointment as Giampiero Ventura’s permanent successor last month. With a full-time Coach finally in place and the Nations League beginning to come into view on the horizon, the Azzurri have rightly been using the past fortnight as the first step on their road to redemption under the former Inter, Manchester City and Zenit St Petersburg boss.

With this in mind, it is only right that Buffon will not feature against the Oranje this evening. Mancini has already had the opportunity to take a closer look at Gigio Donnarumma and Salvatore Sirigu in the matches with Saudi Arabia and France respectively. With another suitor to Buffon’s crown, Mattia Perin, the Italy Coach will have learned a lot about the goalkeeping tools at his disposal.

The time for sentiment ended with Mancini’s arrival. Now the Azzurri must build for the future – a future that, as things currently stand, does not feature the great Gigi Buffon.

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Have your say...

John Elkann owns EXOR, which in turn counts Juventus in its assets portfolio.

Cousin Agnelli is the President.

Marotta is John Elkann eyes and ears/right hand executive in the Club.


Friend and ally Agnelli would have granted another stay to Buffon.

Nedved neither friend nor foe but leaning on the latter.

Marotta gave Elkann his overview on the situation.
He had already allocated Buffon's present wages in his budget to EMRE CAN.
on the 5th June, 2018 at 1:41pm


It's the classic catch 22 situation.

If Storari had been the second choice goalkeeper and Gigi had accepted the 2.2 millions that Perin will get, everything would have reached a status quo.

However having already "burned" NETO on Gigi's altar, Elkann wasn't Prepared to do the same for SZCZ with the added high wages of Buffon to be taken into account.
on the 5th June, 2018 at 10:25am
...tho if Perin is gonna be riding the bench at Juve,it’s not good practice. He needs to be playing regularly. Sadly Donnarumma is already rattled,and missed chance to grow. Hoping these 3 games helped in choosing a system and 8-9 nucleus players to go on to qualify in Nations league. Wouldn’t mind Chiellini coming back to team with Bonucci in back. It’s an entirely new Azzurri for future. If Candreva can regain his form give 1 more chance.
Only time will tell.
Enjoy the Azzurri-less summer.
on the 4th June, 2018 at 11:19pm
Eh...1st off Gigi is a Legendary Beast. If he still has the drive,mind and body to compete at high level then do it! PSG is an easy fit as it’s deep pockets and all star roster. He could even make it to CL semifinals. Grant it the coach change could effect them.Yes he’s had a swansong for past 2 years, IT was supposed to be @WC. Buuut we saw how that went down. That faill game WAS the send off.
Now Mancini gotta find the new #1 . Perin did the best outta 3 games. He or Sirigu should be starter.
on the 4th June, 2018 at 10:58pm
I did practically say the samething because all those weeks ago Buffon decided he wasnt retiring then he was now all of sudden hes off to PSG. Like i said boring!
Totti stayed true, stayed at the team he loved and retired at that team. Give it another week and Buffon will sign Juve again.
on the 4th June, 2018 at 10:50pm
Yeah good decision. But not for the reasons the author mentioned, assuming the author did mention any reasons, as I couldn't find any.

@ Anonymous

The only drama queen here is you. You posted the same moaning nonsense in the other blog. And no, Buffon hasn't been doing that for 2-3 years. That's just the theory of relativity applied to your bitterness.

I remember FI having blog after blog for Totti, no one was moaning about it. We know why.
on the 4th June, 2018 at 6:05pm
i dont understand what buffon is doing. the whole year the talk of him was about retiring. now he is leaving juventus to possibly go to PSG? doesnt make any sense. his best years are behind. go out on top. otherwise why not just stay at juve?
on the 4th June, 2018 at 5:04pm
But why Fotball Italia Staff does not like Thiago Cionek, making Polish septet at WC??
on the 4th June, 2018 at 4:14pm
I believe for Football Italia Staff the name of Wojciech Szczęsny is too difficult to write ;-)
I could believe in the US there was forbidden 'S' word of 'sextet', but in Italy??
on the 4th June, 2018 at 4:11pm

It's OK to try all the up and coming young players in friendlies, but we CANNOT risk to falter in the important qualifying games!
on the 4th June, 2018 at 3:54pm
If a team wants to do well, the best players have to be selected.

Planning would be calcio's utopia, as you have to try to win as many matches as you possibly can.....

Planning is simple:
THE NEXT GAME IS ALWAYS THE MOST IMPORTANT, then che sara', sara'..............

on the 4th June, 2018 at 2:32pm
I am all Buffoned out
on the 4th June, 2018 at 2:00pm
The guys been 'swansonging' for the last 2-3 yrs. Lets not prolong our pain anymore just leave and retire already. Goodness he is so dramatic; first hes retiring then hes not then hes leaving then hes finished then hes off to PSG just go away. So bored of listening to him and opening papers to the same rubbish.
We have wasted enough time. It's the only position we have great options in and we are stuck with this drama queen.
Wake up people we didn't qualify becuase we didnt change, lets change
on the 4th June, 2018 at 1:17pm
Well, Donnarumma is young and, at the moment, not in Buffon's elite class.

As I keep reminding everybody, Dino Zoff won the World Cup when he was 41.

Perin, Meret, Sirigu and Donnarumma are nowhere as good as Buffon is even now!
on the 4th June, 2018 at 12:30pm
GOAT! I think he has made the correct choice! Let the younger ones have some space to play, I can understand always wanting to be there for your nation but no manager is not going to call someone like Buffon so he needs to be the one to call time on his international career even he always said he would be there. I think he should go for the PSG deal why not if he still thinks he can play then play, you are a long time retired FORZA GIGI
on the 4th June, 2018 at 11:26am
So what exactly author is saying?
It was right decision because.... uh because Mancini can have now opportunity to look at Perin and Donnaruma?|
What a nonsense
on the 4th June, 2018 at 10:31am
time to move on. the new squad will be needing some time as it’s obvious to develop and build up a competitive team that is what most national teams do. however, the players need to be playing regularly at their clubs, and coaches need to give italian players the trust filled with enthusiasm for such players to improve, otherwise what’s the use of hoping the national team will have a fruitful results?! no strong national team is built on players whom face difficulties in their domestic clubs.
on the 4th June, 2018 at 9:06am

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