Saturday March 1 2014
Time for Buffon to step aside?

With Juve linked to other ‘keepers, Dave Taylor wonders if Gianluigi Buffon can offer more to Juventus by standing down as No 1.

This weekend’s big clash between Milan and Juventus involves quite an intriguing subtext for one Juve player. Way back in 1995 a nervous 17-year-old Gianluigi Buffon, fresh from the Primavera side, made his Parma debut against the then-mighty Rossoneri. The champions elect were top of the table, yet despite legendary strikers Roberto Baggio and George Weah were held to a 0-0 draw, following the young ‘keeper’s superb performance. This Sunday Buffon plays them again but this time he is captain of Juventus, topping the table, super confident and it’s his team that are champions elect.

A lot has happened since that memorable November day when Buffon started his path to becoming arguably Italy’s best ever goalkeeper. Yet the fact remains that he isn’t getting any younger and at 36 his future with Juve seems up in the air, according to his agent.

“At the moment, I can’t say for certain what’s going to happen,” said Silvano Martina recently. “Maybe he’ll retire this summer, maybe he’ll leave, maybe he’ll stay, I just don’t know.” There are some who feel if Buffon thinks like this that he should retire sooner rather than later. A captain’s mood can determine the disposition of the whole team and to be so unsure of his future may just undermine the whole winning ethos Buffon for one has worked so hard to maintain.

There are also claims that in the Champions League, especially against top class opposition like Bayern Munich last year, his performances are not up to scratch. Then there are his injuries, especially to his back, which have been so serious that on a couple of occasions almost ended his career. 

Nevertheless, his time isn’t quite up yet, he is still signed until June 2015 and undoubtedly still has the quality to lift a third consecutive Scudetto. However, according to some, including former Juve Coach Fabio Capello, that’s not too difficult as Serie A standards have dropped compared to previous seasons. “Juve are good in Italy and bad out of it,” he said. “There is no competition for them in Serie A, and therefore, no proper workouts.”

With this in mind and the fact that Juve have an undoubtedly strong defence, perhaps now is the time they should think about introducing a newcomer for next season. Reports suggest that they are already looking at Eintracht Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp as Gigi’s long term replacement this summer. They could also bring back a couple of young on loan ‘keepers. If that is the case, perhaps Buffon could be more valuable by staying on the sidelines. From there he could instruct them and always be ready to step in if things don’t go according to plan.

The values of leadership can sometimes be underestimated in football and Buffon could be a real asset to make his replacement believe he has what it takes to play for Juve. He can also explain to less experienced players what is needed, how best to represent Juve and be the shining light youngsters can aspire to.

Certainly Juve have a class of talent that can look up to him with no less than 10 ‘keepers on their books. These include the highly thought of youngsters on loan in Serie B, like Nicola Leali at Spezia and Laurentiu Branescu at Lanciano. Away from Turin is Genoa’s Mattia Perin, who at 20 has already played for the Azzurri and has, according to Dino Zoff, the potential and the ability to become Buffon’s heir.

Juve also possess much strength in their youth system with 18-year-olds Sergio Citti and Gianmarco Vannucchi impressing with every passing game. Yet, perhaps the one with the most potential is 17-year-old Audero Emil, who has already played in the Primavera and is an Azzurri U-18 starlet.

Despite this potential, none are quite ready to step up to the top level just yet. It is all down to Buffon because he is still the best and the arguments and discussions can go on interminably about who can take his place if he retires.


And whether that is this summer or not, the only thing we do know for sure is that one day it will happen. So, while we wait lets just enjoy Gigi for what he has brought to Italian football since that stunning debut almost two decades ago.    

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Have your say...

Mistakes like today happen more frequently than you pretend. He Neuer gets a lot of praise, even tho he hasn't been the Bundesliga GK of the year since 2010. He is the best German GK, but he's not yet the best in the world. By claiming Neuer and no one else, it's just clear that you're not really trying. Gigi is still top 10, still world-class. But he is not top 5. Hasn't been since about 2008.
on the 6th March, 2014 at 1:26am
Buffon's contract ends in 2015, so if a young goalkeeper is to take over I believe he must be brought in this summer. If Buffon were to leave this summer then we go for an established custodian. In that instance I think we should take advantage of Casillas' situation at Real Madrid an bring in Spain's Number 1. He is still top class and younger than Gigi and I think would relish a new challenge.
on the 5th March, 2014 at 10:15pm
Congratulations to Dave Taylor for drawing a reaction but also highlighting his incompetence. Who does Buffon need to step aside for? Whose progress is he blocking? Yes, youth sometimes needs room to develop but when you're awesome, you're awesome so you'll get in the team regardless of age. The truth is, at this time, no Italian 'keeper is close to Buffon in terms of ability and character. Long may he reign!
on the 5th March, 2014 at 1:16pm
Great timing, sir!
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 3:49pm
Nuff Said!
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 12:32pm
Utter rubbish. Buffon has at least 2 more years, then Juve will need a big keeper like they have had before... not a prospect
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 9:01am
You got your answer by Gigi today in the match vs. Milan. He himself has said that he will step down when he feels he has no more to offer, but that day hasn't come yet.
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 3:10am
Gigi proved today against Milan, he is still one of the best keepers in the world.
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 3:00am
I think that at 36 years old gigi would need to step aside, but then who will replace him in italian soccer? Sirigu is whatever, the best prospect is perin, he is young gigi. By playing a 36 year old you dont leave any room for growth by the younger.
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 10:15pm
Did you watch Buffon's performance today against Milan? Dave Taylor what are you on about?
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 10:08pm
Ironically, Buffon was Man of the Match today.
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 9:59pm
Milan-Juventus.I think Buffon did a fine job replying to this article on the field.
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 9:50pm
Today's game answered your question. NO.
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 9:45pm
Dave we're halfway through Milan Juve match and I was wondering if you have already changed your mind. Or maybe you should delete the article altogether.
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 9:29pm
Honestly Gigi is not properly tested with Juve in Serie A so we can't really tell how good he still is. the confederations cup last year was a real test of his capabilities and he did not look as reliable as he used to be- he was error prone, spilling shots at the feet of opposition strikers and not as confident as he always is- he was a shadow of the player we saw in 2006 World Cup. Let's wait till the World Cup 4 months from now before deciding whether it's time for him to call it a day or not- I think this will be his next hard test. Europa league and the remainder of Serie A are no test at all.
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 5:02pm
I agree with Gabriel, people are refusing to accept that Buffon is getting older and people have to remember- HE IS JUST A MAN. I do believe he still has a lot to give, so please, dnt get abusive! It would be smart to bring in a replacement sooner to begin working with him. After all Thiago Silva got 1 on 1 training with the great Maldini and look at him now, he's regarded as 1 of the best defenders.- Worth thinking about :)
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 4:30pm
Obviously this is a very heated and emotional topic for some. I have to admit that I am one of these people, I became a Juve supporter in part because of Buffon and when he does go, well let's just say it'll be hard. Buffon is smart enough to know when to step down, but I believe he'll resist stepping down until he's helped the team win the Champions League. More about how highly I regard Buffon to be can be found on my blog!
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 3:59pm

on the 2nd March, 2014 at 1:18pm
@Tino Baggio, Perin, IMO, has been the best keeper in Serie A this season. Sirigu has also been excellent for PSG. As for outfield players, I kind of agree with you. Aside from Verratti, I cannot see any truly exceptional talents. My main concern is with the CB positions & the lack of an heir to De Rossi: does anyone know of a young Italian midfielder that has similar qualities to DDR ?(not including boxing & elbowing).
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 11:24am
Stupid article Dave! Useless and just wrong! Expect better from u guys!
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 7:14am
A lot of comments here seem to come from people who believe that Buffon is immortal and they cannot deal with the fact that the end is approaching fast. His contract expires next year, when he will be 37 and it would be ridiculous not to plan ahead and not seriously think about a replacement. Personally I would bring a young goalkeeper in during the summer as No:2 so he can acclimatize and work with Gigi for a season. It would be a big risk to just throw someone in at the deep end.
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 6:46am
Wow lol

This guy needs to win the cl, if we don't give it to him next year he will probably be the best player in history not ever to win it, but since we have conte and he has pusy tactics outside serie a, which is a weak league, and will not change from the 352, and we are bringing in players like osvaldo, we will most likely not make any progress in the cl, and i, as well as every juve fan should will feel extremely bad for this man
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 6:25am
Buffon is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world. I see Buffon lifting more and more trophies in the next 3-5 years.

Bad Article!
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 2:46am
Even when Buffon does move aside....Who will Italy have? what number 1 player do we have to represent us. We used to have representatives in defence Baresi Maldini Cannavaro with the last Nesta. Forwards Vieri, Del P and Baggio. How long can Pirlo hold the Midfield position and the same with keepers. Italy is producing no one special any more so this article does raise questions
on the 2nd March, 2014 at 1:10am
Scraping the barrel a little here eh??? Buffon's agent makes some off-hand comments and the great man's form, reliability and capability as club captain are suddenly called into question...meanwhile, Buffon is playing as well as any keeper I see regularly, and has missed a couple of games this season.

We have some wonderful talents for the future. I'm probably not alone is hoping Leali will be in Serie A next term (loaned) as he has been fantastic in the second tier. Also, its Emil Audero.
on the 1st March, 2014 at 11:53pm
I think you guys misunderstood this one part. I think Dave means Buffon could be the second-choice for his final year and tutor his heir. While being the second-choice, maybe Juve could still let him play in the most important matches and in UCL.
on the 1st March, 2014 at 11:39pm
@ Me

He is no longer #1, no longer in top 5, maybe in top 10 ? Then who is #1? Casillas ? Ha, Valdes? Haha? Cech? Huha, Hart? Buhaha.

The only Keeper whose's been catching my eye lately is Neuer. I consider him number 1 as far as the last couple of years, but only because Gigi hasn't been playing in the advance roles in champions League.

Otherwise, Gigi is the greatest, not only in his generation, he's the greatest ever.
on the 1st March, 2014 at 11:20pm
Gigi has had his day, he is old and in need of a replacement. Trapp is the future of the Bianconeri - welcome him with open arms. Forza La Vecchia Signora!
on the 1st March, 2014 at 9:59pm
Since when football Italia is degrading itself with such lame articles?
If you want to increase traffic write articles that matter not stupid questions.
It's true that Gigi is at the sunset of his career but trying to cut a year or two is stupid. Let some kid to replace him naturally when an opportunity arises and not by breaking something that works perfectly well.

Hint: he won't retire without his missing trophy ;)
on the 1st March, 2014 at 9:53pm
I will be waiting to see the Football-italia article on all the penalties Inter weren't granted, including today's punch from De Rossi and his non-expulsion.
on the 1st March, 2014 at 9:47pm

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