The 2015-16 season saw a couple of things remain the same in Serie A and Italy as a whole. For one, Juventus continued its five-year run of dominance, once again winning the Scudetto. Secondly, the man who captains the Serie A champions, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, continued his own respective run of dominance, once again proving to be one of Juventus' vital pieces despite being in his late-30s.
Both of them played their respective parts. And both of them happening means that Buffon will be up for more individual recognition.
It has been announced that Buffon, the gold standard of goalkeeping, has been named to the shortlist for the UEFA Best Player award, it was announced early Monday. The award's final group of three potential recipients will be announced on Aug. 5 following a vote by journalists from UEFA's 55 member associations. The UEFA Best Player award will be announced at the Champions League group stage draw on Aug. 25 in Monaco.
The list of the 10 players on the player of the year shortlist are as follows:
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid & Wales)
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus & Italy)
Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid & France)
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid & Germany)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina)
Thomas Müller (Bayern München & Germany)
Manuel Neuer (Bayern München & Germany)
Pepe (Real Madrid & Portugal)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid & Portugal)
Luis Suárez (Barcelona & Uruguay)
As you can see, Buffon is the lone representative from Serie A. And as you can see, that's one more representative than the so-called Best League in the World, the English Premier League, has in the top 10. Feel free to insert your EPL-centric jokes now, folks.
To say Buffon is deserving of being included in that group is pretty much an understatement. He was a force in Serie A — again. He was a force in the Champions League — again. He doesn't make nearly as many saves as some of his fellow goalkeepers in Italy because of the defense that plays in front of him, but almost every one of them turn out to be crucial considering their timing.
He can still take over a game, still be the difference between three points and one point, one point and no points. That's the beauty of a goalkeeper like Gigi Buffon — he's a difference-maker in every sense of the term. And he's doing all of this as he's getting closer and closer to his 40th birthday. Tell me how many goalkeepers at Buffon's age can continue to play at Buffon's level. (The answer is not very many at all, so there you go.)