Juventus bring back Gianluigi Buffon

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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.  Continue reading

What does Buffon’s return to Juventus say about Szczesny & Perin?

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words so in the era where it feels everyone is a transfer insider on Twitter it’s pretty incredible we didn’t figure out what Gigi Buffon meant when he tweeted a picture of himself driving with the caption “Travel only has one rule, don’t come back the same way as you left. Come back different”.

 

Originally, I thought he meant that he was going to replace Iker Casillas at Porto following his experience at Paris St Germain. Considering his career has already an incredible narrative- arriving at Juve along with Nedved and Thuram following Zidane’s historic sale, going down to Serie B right after winning the World Cup, replacing a legend like Del Piero as the bianconeri’s captain- ending it by replacing his dear friend, and once rival, Casillas after the legendary Spanish keeper had suffered a heart attack, felt like a perfect ending to his club career before potentially hanging up his gloves representing Italy at the next Olympics.

 

But instead Buffon was being way more literal and we should have figured it out by the pack of cigarettes being prominently displayed in the picture- what could be a better gift for Juventus’ new manager Maurizio Sarri? In fact as Gianluca Di Marzio reported on Wednesday night, Buffon is returning to Juventus to be Woj Szczesny’s backup.

But what does Buffon’s return say about him and Juventus’ current keepers? After an up and down season at PSG, Gigi is now probably comfortable with the idea of being a backup, especially since as part of his new deal with Juventus, he’ll move into the front office presumably next year.

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In many ways, bringing back Buffon is a ringing endorsement of how well Woj Szczesny has played last season. One of the reasons Juventus decided to part ways from their legendary keeper last year is they didn’t want his shadow to be looming over the Polish backstop during his first season as the starter- they knew that after any of his (very rare) mistakes, there would be thousands of people calling for Buffon to take over.

 

While Szczesny didn’t have as flashy a season as Meret, Donnarumma and Cragno in Serie A- which is hard to do when you are the keeper for the team that ran away with the title- he saved his best performances for the Champions League. While his ability with his feet isn’t on Alisson’s level, he’s more than above average in this regard which makes him a great for Sarri’s system.

Buffon’s return will not impact the Polish backstop that much, but the same cannot be said for Mattia Perin who arrived last summer hoping to challenge for the starting spot. But the Genoa keeper was rather underwhelming in his 9 starts, and showed once again, that while he’s a very good shot stopper, he’s quite limited in every other aspect of the positions.

 

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Just like Neto a few years ago, Perin is looking to go back to being a starter- which is understandable considering that he’s 26 and his one season as a backup cost him being part of the Italian national team. Considering that Juventus acquired him for a very reasonable 12 million euro transfer fee last year, selling him this summer could prove to be quite advantageous.

 

After Alisson’s record breaking transfer fee which was topped just a few weeks later by Kepa to Chelsea, there are more clubs willing to invest significantly on keepers. Perin could easily fetch 15/20 million which would be a considerable profit over his amortized value left on Juventus books of around 9 million- in the last 12 months Juventus has made capital gains on numerous minor deals which added up together helped them pay for Cristiano Ronaldo.

While many will focus on the sentimental angle of Buffon’s return, there are financial gains for Juventus to sell their backup keeper and replace him with one on a Bosman, even when such player is a club legend who telegraphed his return just 6 days ago.

 

Assessing the goal keeper market in Serie A

Gianluigi-Donnarumma

 

With just three games left in the season, we can start looking to the summer transfer window. To get ready, let’s assess the market at each major position and the needs for the top teams in Serie A:

 

Juventus- all set with Szczesny at the starter position after he made the post Buffon season uneventful, Mattia Perin is recovering from an injury but expected back as backup

Napoli- Alex Meret has the potential to be the best keeper in club history, Ospina’s rights expected to be redeemed

Inter- Handanovic is still one of the elite keepers in the league but since he’s 34 time to look for a successor. Ionut Radu could be the heir apparent or a chip to make a plusvalenza, Brazao is expected to be at the summer retreat after finishing the season at Parma

Atalanta- Gollini replaced Berisha as the starter but the club could look for an upgrade especially if they qualify to Champions League

Milan- Donnarumma had a strong comeback season, Reina is the highest paid backup keeper in Serie A, Plizzari recently signed an extension

Roma- you have to wonder how many more points they would have had Mirante replaced Olsen sooner. But Mirante is also 35…

 

 

Alessio Cragno

 

The Cagliari keeper had a breakout season and you can make a case he was the best keeper in the league along with Sirigu in 2018-19. But unlike the Torino keeper, Cragno is just about to enter his prime since he’ll turn 25 and will have a significant market moving forward. Cragno could be a great fit at Roma as an immediate starter or he could be the long term replacement for Handanovic at Inter should they decide to cash on Radu. If Atalanta wanted to make a bold move, especially if they qualify for the Champions League, Cragno would be a wise investment since he would also have future resale value.

 

Ionut Radu

 

The Romanian keeper replaced Marchetti as the starter at Genoa last fall and quickly established himself as one of the best young keepers in the league. It will be interesting to see if Inter, who ultimately own his rights with a counter buy back option, decide to use him as a financial asset and turn him into a plusvalenza, or if they will be more gun shy after Zaniolo’s explosion at Roma. 

 

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Mattia Perin

 

Could the former Genoa keeper follow in Neto’s foot steps and decide to leave Juventus because the backup role isn’t fulfilling enough? Prior to his injury, Perin did little to show he was a serious threat to replace Szczesny as the starter, but because of his reputation he still has a significant market and could net Juventus a fairly significant plusvalenza since they acquired him for 12 million euro. Perin could be an enticing option for Atalanta and Fiorentina should they decide to cash in on Lafont.

 

Alban Lafont 

 

The FIFA superstar had an up and down debut season in Serie A. Not surprisingly he had his fair share of great saves, but he also cost his club numerous points with some significant blunders and poor ball distribution skills. But considering the dumpster fire season Fiorentina is about to complete and the excellent performances by Bartomiej Dragowski at Empoli while on loan, we could see a changing of the guard at the keeper position.

Lafont could still fetch a good profit for Fiorentina because of his reputation and the low price it took to acquire (around 8 million). He could be a fit at Roma or more likely at a club outside of Italy.

 

Juan Musso

 

The former Racing club keeper turned heads in his debut season in Serie A. His performances for Udinese earned him a selection to Argentina’s national team, assuming the Friulani don’t get relegated, it’s likely they’ll hold on to him at least another season to further increase his value (and lower his amortization cost).

Emil Audero

 

After the success of the Lucas Torreira deal, it’s not surprising to see Arsenal once again looking at Sampdoria. The Gunners have scouted the Indonesian born keeper multiple times this season, but in order to tempt Ferrero’s club, they must offer considerably more than the 20 million euro paid in January to redeem his rights from Juventus. 

Gigio Donnarumma

 

 Considering how long he has been in our lives, it’s hard to believe the Milan keeper is just twenty years old. Donnarumma has fully established himself as Buffon’s heir on the Azzurri and for a long stretch of the season, he was right there with Cragno and Sirigu as the best keeper in the league. 

Donnarumma also fixed his relationship with the club’s fan base, but his humongous salary and fact he would represent a massive plusvalenza at a time that Milan faces significant Financial Fair Play restraints (especially if they don’t qualify for the Champions League)

 

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 33

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Juventus: Mattia Perin and Sami Khedira will undergo season-ending surgeries for shoulder and knee problems respectively. Paulo Dybala sustained a quad strain against Ajax and will miss at least a couple of weeks. Giorgio Chiellini (calf) might be back next week, while Mario Mandzukic might not be back at all due to patellar tendon issues. Douglas Costa (calf) and Martin Caceres (thigh) will skip the next two matches.

Napoli: Raul Albiol (knee surgery) has resumed practicing and might be called up this week, leaving Amadou Diawara as the only injured player. Nikola Maksimovic will be on the mend for a while due to a foot infraction.  Continue reading

Allegri previews the clash with Cagliari

Juventus Press Conference

Juventus will quickly return on the pitch tomorrow and therefore Massimiliano Allegri talked to the press today: “Cristiano Ronaldo is working and we hope to have him back for the Ajax game, like Douglas Costa. We will know more about Sami Khedira on Wednesday, he might return against Milan. I think that Juan Cuadrado will be back in short order. Paulo Dybala will be evaluated later today, while Mario Mandzukic is under the weather and we will see whether he will be available. Mattia Perin will not travel with the team because he has a bruised shoulder. Leonardo Spinazzola has a knee problem, not on the surgically-repaired one, and will be out for 10/15 days. Andrea Barzagli should be at my disposal for the final games.” Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 25

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Mattia Perin (7 points): several clean sheets in this round and among the goalkeepers that managed to do so, the Juventus one had the most impactful performance, denying a strike by Nicola Sansone with an eye-popping save.

Armando Izzo (9 points): Torino once again stymied their opponents with a great collective effort and, on top of that, the centre-back broke the deadlock pouncing on a loose ball in the box.

Elseid Hysaj (7 points): he is generally not particularly flashy on offence, but he delivered on Sunday with a terrific touch with the outside of his foot to spring Piotr Zielinski free. Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Round 25

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Juventus brought home the full loot in a game they truly had no business winning, keeping Napoli at bay ahead of next week’s clash and becoming the first team to prevail in 22 of the first 25 matches in Serie A history.

Mattia Perin (7 points): the squad did it with its defence in this case, as Bologna had much more energy, intensity and conviction. A solid performance by the two starting centre-backs, Leonardo Bonucci and Daniele Rugani, who, despite the constant pressure, never allowed an opponent to shake free for a clear-cut chances, and by Giorgio Chiellini too, who thwarted a great through ball for Diego Falcinelli. Continue reading

Allegri’s presser ahead of Juventus-SPAL

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Coach Massimiliano Allegri previewed tomorrow’s clash with SPAL earlier today and begun by addressing the Balloon d’Or rumours: “I do not know anything about that. Cristiano Ronaldo is practicing well and would deserve it for what he has done.”

On Paulo Dybala scoring with Argentina: “It is a nice step for him. He is constantly improving, he started off very well this year, both physically and mentally. He has to keep it going, but that also depends on his desire. He is at his best when he plays almost as midfield, between the lines, knitting the maneuver. He tracks back to help his teammates and then feeds Mario Mandzukic and Ronaldo, who work less in the build-up.” Continue reading

Sandro & Perin speaks, Kean’s update and minority shareholders overview

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Yesterday was pretty rich of quotes coming from Juventus players or relatives. Alex Sandro talked about his future from before the friendly against Cameroon: “I would like to play in Premier League one day. At this moment, I am very happy about the club and the league I play in, my wish is to stay where I am.”

Mattia Perin spoke during the Gran Galà del calico: “I have always been impressed by this club, in the last few years they have had two different squads in the roster that could compete for the title. Wearing the black-and-white jersey is a big responsibility, I hope to become the best goalkeeper in Serie A.” Continue reading

Allegri talks ahead of Bologna-Juventus

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A quick turnaround for Juventus and the rest of Serie A due to the midweek round. Coach Massimiliano Allegri spoke today to the press prior to the Bologna tilt and started off by weighing on Cristiano Ronaldo: “He is fine physically, he needs to keep playing and scoring and he will be suspended on Tuesday in Champions League, so he will play tomorrow.”

On the Frosinone match: “We played an excellent game, especially in the second half, with patience, quickness and lucidity. We need to get used to winning these tricky fixtures.” Continue reading