Buffon to leave Juve, will consider 'exciting proposals'

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon poses for pictures with fans in front of the Allianz Stadium after a news conference in Turin yesterday.
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon poses for pictures with fans in front of the Allianz Stadium after a news conference in Turin yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

TURIN (Italy) • Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon announced yesterday that he will leave the Italian giants after 17 years but did not as expected declare the end of his playing career.

Buffon captained Juventus to a seventh straight Serie A title and a fourth consecutive Italian Cup triumph this season.

"To end this adventure with two new victories was important," he told a press conference.

Italy's most capped player with 176 appearances, Buffon also confirmed he would not play again for the Azzurri, ruling out an expected international farewell on June 4 in a friendly against the Netherlands.

Buffon will make his 640th Serie A appearance against Verona tomorrow and Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini will take over the role of Juventus captain for next season.

The 40-year-old Buffon said he would like to take more time to reflect on his future, which could be either on or off the pitch.

"What am I going to do? Saturday, I'm playing a match and it's the only thing that's certain," he added.

"Until 15 days ago, I was sure to stop playing, but I received some exciting proposals, both on and off the pitch. Off the pitch, the most interesting was made to me by (Juventus) president (Andrea) Agnelli.

"Next week, after a few days of calm reflection, I will make a definite and certain decision."

According to the Italian press, Buffon has received offers from top European clubs including Liverpool and Real Madrid.

"I'd like to get out of my comfort zone and to test myself in more complicated situations," he said.

"That's a way of seeing what you're made of and I've never been afraid of a challenge. I'm certainly not someone who thinks it's right to end my career in who knows what third or fourth division.

"I am a competitive animal and I won't be able to live or feel at ease in that situation."

It has been a roller-coaster term for Buffon with Italy failing to qualify for the World Cup Finals for the first time in six decades.

Buffon, whose last Champions League game ended in acrimony last month as he raged at referee Michael Oliver after being sent off following a penalty awarded to Real Madrid in added time in the return leg of their quarter-final tie, also apologised for his rant that night.

"I went beyond the limits with the things I said and I apologise for that," said Buffon, who has since been charged by European football governing body Uefa over his post-match comments.

"I am extremely sorry about that, as over 23 years of (my) Champions League career, I was never sent off... If I see the referee again, I would give him a hug."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2018, with the headline 'Buffon to leave Juve, will consider 'exciting proposals''. Print Edition | Subscribe