Just a year after an emotional sendoff, Gianluigi Buffon is back in Turin. The legendary goalkeeper has agreed to a contract till June 2020 and will back up Wojciech Szczesny, reversing the roles from the 2017/2018 campaign. His signing will lead to the exit of Mattia Perin, who will move on to be a starter elsewhere.
Buffon had an up-and-down year in Paris, splitting time with Alphonse Areola on goal: he totaled 25 appearances, conceding 25 goals and keeping nine clean sheets. The French club won the league title, but fell short in the Champions League against Manchester United in the round of 16.
Buffon has been at Juventus since 2001, amassing 656 appearances and winning nine Scudetti (plus two revoked due to Calciopoli), lifting Coppa Italia and six Supercoppa trophies. He accounted for over 311 clean sheets. In what is believed to be his final season before becoming an executive, he will aim for the elusive European glory one last time.
The 41-year-old goalie is seven games short of Serie A’s all-time record of appearances, which currently belongs to Paolo Maldini. Thus, while Szczesny is expected to remain the starter, Buffon could get some fairly significant action in his attempt to break it. As a comparison, Perin featured in nine domestic matches last season despite suffering a season-ending shoulder injury at the beginning of April.
Buffon will not have an official unveiling but he greeted the fans through a video message: “Hi guys, I am very happy to be back home and to have the opportunity to embrace you again. This is one of the happiest days of my life and I had the confirmation that life is incredible and that dreaming is worth it.”
He then attended a club’s event in Milan and talked to some journos: “Wearing the Juventus jersey again means giving a more clear path to my career and I think it is a nice prize for a man like me, because I know what true happiness is and Juventus do not gift anybody anything, considering the way they think. It is very gratifying to be here and I thank everybody for all these emotions.”
“I hope to have few more satisfactions like in the past few years and to be able to share them with people I know and with whom I share a strong bond. I am not here to break Maldini’s record, I want to give my contribution, we will have several objectives in the upcoming season.”
On Cristiano Ronaldo: “It is beautiful to be able to play with him. I had the chance to meet Kylian Mbappè and Neymar in Paris and now him thanks to Juventus. Being able to conclude my career in this way is fantastic.”
“My goal is to be ready at any time, I am not here to count my minutes. The hierarchies are clear and Wojciech is the starter. I am serene. Champions League is certainly the most stimulating trophy, but you can not focus only on that, it would be the first step towards failing. There are ten important months before the final.”
“There are multiple motivations behind my choice, even though I realize it might seem odd. The truth is that I want to play for one more season and experience strong feelings, embrace some teammates that are like brothers here, celebrate with the president, Pavel Nedved, Fabio Paratici and the goalkeeper’s coach.”
“I want to thank Wojciech and Giorgio Chiellini that privately offered me the number 1 and the captain’s armband, but I am not here to take anything away from anybody. The #1 belong to the starter and the armband to Giorgio. I will wear number 77 like in Parma, it brought me to Juventus.”
On the title race: “From afar, Juventus annihilated the other contenders last season. The arrival of Antonio Conte makes Inter a strong candidate, but it is too early to tell in July. I met with Maurizio Sarri and he made me an excellent impression.”
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