There are few who would begrudge Gigi Buffon one more season. The iconic goalkeeper decided not to renew with PSG this summer and instead wants to look for pastures new to ply his trade, even at his ripe old age. His agent has confirmed that he is looking through the many offers he already has, but it would be no surprise if he took his time. Despite his status as one of the best goalkeepers the world has ever seen, there are still reasons for him to be careful.
Is he still good enough? Statistically, his season at PSG was almost on a par if not slightly better than his last year with Juventus. He did make some high-profile errors, above all against Manchester United in the Champions League, but this is a goalkeeper who could easily walk into a lot of Serie A teams and perform. This seems quite amazing, but it is down to the incredibly high levels he set in this position. He didn’t just master goalkeeping, he redefined it. Admittedly he is nowhere near his best levels, not even close, but even though he has fallen down the rungs of his own lofty ladder, he is still better than many much younger pretenders.
Perhaps one interesting reason that will influence his next choice is who is in goal for the team currently. This is because Buffon is a gentleman and as he said about both Wojciech Szczesny and Alphonse Areola, he was conscious that his presence didn’t stunt their progress. In both cases he mentored them, especially in Paris, where the pair spoke openly about their happiness of splitting the games 50/50. Buffon got to play for a prestigious club and win a Ligue 1 title, whilst Areola also achieved this learning from his idol. Perhaps this would work well at a club with a young talented goalkeeper. Italy has man, where the same arrangement could be agreed, for example Lazio or even Atalanta.
It is not beyond the realms of fantasy to say that Gigi could still play for his home-town club Carrarese, when he is 46, never mind 41. The side in Serie C would really have a coup on their hands and the move certainly wouldn’t be about the money. The goalkeeper has spoken about wanting to be back in Italy for his final move, as he could be closer to family and friends and this would seem a delightful, almost charitable final chapter.
Perhaps more likely is a move to Genoa, where Ionut Radu could extend his loan from Inter. Again, staying in Italy seems to be key to him, as he had already reportedly turned down lucrative moves from the US and China.
With rumours of Parma and Brescia talks were quashed by his agent, but it seems Gigi is not short of offers. Every day sees him linked to clubs such as Barcelona, Porto and Manchester United to name a few, and this simply is testament to his legacy. He has the luxury of time.
Many thought his move to France was a bridge too far, yet he proved everyone wrong. He wouldn’t call it a mediocre season, he would call it a great one, not just because of the Ligue 1 title, but because of the cultural experience.
This is Buffon all over, he is a man whose next move is so unpredictable because it will not just be a footballing one. It will be because that city or town is where he feels he can have the best life experience for him at this moment, where he can help a goalkeeper develop and where he can add value to a team. This isn’t just about Buffon moving for money or because it’s the best of the offers, he wants to ensure everyone around him will benefit.