Gianluigi Buffon said he will discuss his future with Juventus president Andrea Agnelli as he considers the option of playing another season.
The 40-year-old appeared set to retire this summer following the World Cup. However, Italy’s failure to qualify appears to have led to a rethink with Buffon now contemplating extending his career for as long as he still feels good enough.
“I can’t tell lies or create any false expectations,” he told Sky Sport Italia in an interview to be broadcast this weekend, excerpts of which have been published by La Gazzetta dello Sport. “The truth is I still have to meet with the president, with whom I have a gentleman’s agreement, and we will make a definitive decision then.
“The days [after defeat to Sweden in the World Cup playoff] were difficult. I wanted to end my career at the World Cup because I think it would have been the most fitting moment to remember and honour my career. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”
Bowing out with World Cup victory would not only have been Buffon’s dream as FIFA president Gianni Infantino admitted that he would have liked nothing more than to pass the trophy to the goalkeeper this summer.
“I would have loved to have given the cup to Buffon,” Infantino, the Swiss-born son of Italian parents, told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “It’s sad — really sad when I think that my first World Cup at FIFA is one without Italy.”
Infantino still hopes to meet up with Buffon in the near future, adding that if he does decide to hang up his gloves this summer, he will “go in person to fetch him [to FIFA].”
Once Buffon decides to retire, another Gianluigi is set to become Italy’s No. 1 goalkeeper. AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, 18, has already acted as Buffon’s understudy in Italy’s most recent fixtures and Buffon can see him emulating his career.
“In terms of the qualities he has shown in these early stages of his career, Donnarumma is currently on everybody’s lips and he deserves to be,” Buffon said. “However, there are one or two others who are a year or two behind him and they are also good prospects.”
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.