After hugely contrasting friendly results against Spain and Germany, Italy CT Antonio Conte will have some thinking to do before the European Championships kick-off in a little over two months. Although the goalkeeping slot is seemingly forever filled by Gianluigi Buffon, the former Juve Coach has several options at his disposal, one of them being a bonafide Serie A star in Mattia Perin.
Despite Buffon's advancing age, he remains one of the finest goalkeepers in the world and has stolen many international careers, fighting off competition from the likes of Christian Abbiati, Francesco Toldo, Morgan De Sanctis and Angelo Peruzzi. But at 38-years-old it will take everything the Juventus captain has in his locker to keep another world class ‘keeper, 15 years his junior, from the Nazionale's number one shirt.
Of course it is not that simple. Perin is not one that splits opinion, with spectators everywhere inspired by his several virtuoso displays in a Genoa shirt. However, he is not without complications. Despite being young, supremely talented and ready for a step-up, he is also inexperienced at the highest level, and after a poor club season with Genoa lying in mid-table his mentality will not be that of a winner.
Such drawbacks indicate Paris Saint-Germain's Salvatore Sirigu is a safer bet with a wealth of experience in Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Champions League. This would bump the Latina native down to third choice, a title no self-respecting professional wants, even if he would be arguably the best third choice goalkeeper in the history of the sport. Buffon's intention to retire after the 2018 World Cup has become public knowledge, and that is the right time for Perin to make his mark on the Italy team. It would therefore be more productive to stay home this summer and work on a move to a Champions League club, with rumours of interest from Roma, Barcelona and Manchester City.
The draw of the national team at a major tournament may be too strong for the 23 year-old, and a full strength Italy squad should be aiming for the last four at a minimum. Marco Sportiello and Gianluigi Donnarumma are equally viable options for the third goalkeeping slot meaning he woudn't exactly be deserting his country if he stayed at home, but with Antonio Conte eager to hold his reputation high before an expected move to Chelsea it is not likely he will accept not having his best players on the plane to France.
Judging on pure talent, Perin should make the Euro 2016 squad without hesitation from Conte. But for the good of his career, and with the risk of gaining the reputation of an international bit-part player, the young Genoa goalkeeper should enter the fray when the Nazionale is calling out for a hero after Buffon's retirement in 2018.
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