Buffon announces Juventus departure date but 43-year-old stops short of heading into retirement

The World Cup-winning goalkeeper is preparing to sever ties with the Bianconeri for a second time, with no new contract lined up

Gianluigi Buffon has confirmed that the 2020-21 campaign will be his last as a Juventus player, but the 43-year-old goalkeeper has stopped short of announcing his retirement.

The World Cup winner returned to Turin for a second spell in 2019, with a one-season stint at Paris Saint-Germain taken in after 17 memorable years with the Bianconeri.

Buffon, who has 176 caps for Italy to his name, always knew that he would be retracing his steps as a back-up option and, after signing two short-terms deals in that role, he is now ready to walk away.

What has been said?

Buffon told beIN Sports: “My future is clear and defined. This beautiful and very long experience with Juve will come to a definitive end this year.

“Either I stop playing, or if I find a situation that motivates me to play or have a different life experience, I will take it into consideration.

“I feel I gave everything for Juve. We have reached the end of a cycle.”

Buffon’s record for Juventus

Gianluigi Buffon Juventus

An all-time great became the most expensive goalkeeper on the planet when making a move from Parma to Juve in 2001.

He went on to spend the best part of two decades between the sticks for the Italian heavyweights, taking in 656 appearances and landing nine Serie A titles.

Another domestic crown has come his way since returning to the Allianz Stadium, along with a further 27 outings across league, cup and Champions League competition.

The bigger picture

Buffon will not be getting the fairytale ending he would have been hoping for in Serie A, with Juve knocked off their perch by arch-rivals Inter this season.

Coppa Italia glory is, however, still there to be shot at, meaning that one more honour could be added to the most distinguished of CVs.

Change has, however, been mooted for some time, with Andrea Pirlo seeing questions asked of his future in a demanding coaching post.

It has also been suggested that Cristiano Ronaldo could move on this summer, with the 36-year-old approaching the final year of his contract, but Buffon says the Portuguese remains as driven as ever to be the best.

He added of a team-mate who has faced criticism this season for failing to inspire Juve to Serie A and Champions League glory: “I have an excellent relationship with Ronaldo. He’s very nice to me.

“He has scored a lot of goals, always, just like in the last few years. The individual is enhanced when the team reaches important goals. If this doesn’t happen, the performances of the individuals suffer as well.”

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