As one of the most legendary goalkeepers in the modern game, Gianluigi Buffon could have people signing him until his 50s. The Italian international might no longer be the quality he was even a decade ago, but he still retains a presence and a significance that makes him appealing to all but the most elite of clubs. Having just left Juventus on a free transfer, the 43-year-old is trying to find the right opportunity. His next move, though, is likely to be outside of Italy.
Earlier reports suggested a romantic return to former club Parma was on the cards, whilst moves to the likes of Atalanta were mooted. Now, though, it is pretty certain that ‘Gigi’ will continue his career outside of the Italian top-flight. He might be tempted for a move to America, but most reports in Italy suggest that a move to Benfica is among the most interesting moves.
Both Benfica and rivals Porto have a long history of quality keepers in nets. Benfica have in the past had the likes of Julio Cesar, Ederson, and Jan Oblak in goals. Porto, meanwhile, had long-term rival Iker Casillas take the gloves for a while. Add in the prestige of Benfica as one of the most elite clubs in the world, and the opportunity to play in Europe once again, and it is easy to see why Buffon would consider a move to the Estadio de Luz.
Where will Buffon play in 2021-22?
Of course, there is also the chance that the 43-year-old might decide to simply stop playing football. Having achieved so much in the game, he might decide his time has been and gone. Most reports suggest it comes down to playing time mixed with prestige. While Buffon could easily play most games for a relegation-threatened team in any league, could he still enjoy himself as much playing in such a role?
At the same time, can a club with trophy winning aspirations count on a 43-year-old who has not been a regular at his team for a long time? It is hard to say. Still, many believe that the simple presence of Buffon and his outright professionalism would make him the ideal choice for almost any club.
For Italian football, though, it will be strange not to see the giant keeper in nets for someone. Aside from a short spell abroad with Paris Saint-Germain, Buffon has been a regular presence in goals well into his late 30s and early 40s. Only recently has he began to fall down the pecking order in terms of regular week-in, week-out playing time.
Despite those issues, though, it is unlikely that Buffon will retire from the game quite yet. Some suggested he might take up a front office role at Juventus, but the majority of reports suggest that he will look to find a good end to his playing career first. Having endured the bench for much of his Turin return, might Buffon wish to go out as a first-choice keeper?