As much as I hate to say it, we are nearing the end of Gigi Buffon’s legendary career with every week that goes by. There’s still time, but not as much as we hope there is. (For the record, I want him to be Juventus’ goalkeeper forever, but obviously that’s not humanly possible.) It’s this season, next season and then the swan song at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
That means the speculation of who will be the successor to Buffon’s near-two-decade-long tenure in the Juventus goal will only ramp up from here. And it’s convenient that, almost like when Juve signed Buffon from Parma back at the turn of the 2000s, that one of the biggest names in terms of up and coming goalkeepers is an Italian.
Could one Gigi be stepping in just as one is going off into the sunset?
We know that’s going to pretty much be the case at the international level. But, as we’ve seen for the first time this international break, the rumors of Juventus trying to sign Milan’s teenage sensation and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma are here. And based on the fact that Juve are going to be in the market for a goalkeeper about 20 to 22 months, there may be no way to avoid said rumors.
On one end, Juventus trying to sign Donnarumma makes perfect sense.
- Buffon’s contract comes to an end in 2018.
- Donnarumma’s contract comes to an end in 2018.
- Based on his age, Donnarumma is the kind of goalkeeper you can build a defense around for the next 10-15 years much in the same fashion that Buffon has been.
On the other end of things...
- Mino Raiola is Donnarumma’s agent.
Okay, so the good completely outweighs the fact that Super Agent Mino could be back in Juventus’ life with multiple clients on the same team. (Moise Kean being the other Juve player represented by Raiola, of course.)
So let’s say that Donnarumma is truly a realistic target in the summer of 2018. You throw in how incredibly young he will be, how much experience at the top level he has at his age and simply the pure ability he has shown at such a young age — especially for a position that is notorious for development taking longer than other spots on the field — and you have to believe the €60 million price tag being bandied about might actually be close to what it will be.
And it’s not exactly like Beppe Marotta has been totally fanning the flames on any future pursuit of the 17-year-old (!!!) Donnarumma.
“In the last 20 years, the national team’s goalkeeper has always been Juve’s: Zoff, Buffon... the history of Juventus is made up of Italian champions and talents.
“Donnarumma? We’re not thinking about him. We always want to have the best goalkeepers.
“Today we have Buffon, who will play with us for a few more years, and it’s beautiful that he represents everything good about football.
“After that, we’ll look around and replace him with someone. Of course, it won’t be easy to replace a player like Buffon.
“It’s a difficult task, but Juventus’ ambition is to find a worthy successor.”
(Source: Football Italia)
To fully try and fill the shoes of Buffon is as close to an impossible task as there is. How do you try and replace the best that has ever played the position? See, not easy to answer. Or even try to come up with one. But Donnarumma is proving that he’s not just a one-season wonder. The kid is the real deal even though he’s still nowhere near his early-20s. You see that, with the need to find a long-term replacement in the relatively near future, and the math just adds up.
That’s why, no matter what it may cost to snatch Donnarumma away from the club he said he grew up watching, this is going to be talked about for more than just a few weeks and months going forward.