Before Gianluigi Donnarumma was the young Italian goalkeeper who had thousands upon thousands of people thinking happy thoughts, there was Mattia Perin. With his rock star-like hair and obvious ability to play the goalkeeper position at a high level — albeit a relatively raw skill set at the time — Perin was the latest in an already-long list of youngsters dubbed as the successor to Gigi Buffon’s legendary throne.
Maybe it was at some point during Perin’s loan spell at Pescara or his return to Genoa the next season that you pulled the trigger and brought him to Juventus in FIFA or Football Manager. He was the hot name with loads of potential and plenty of talent to grow in to.
The virtual acquisitions may soon become a real-life signing.
Juventus’ interest in the 25-year-old Perin is very much a thing of reality. Over the past week since Juve’s season finale, Genoa have made it very apparent that Perin could leave the club this summer. He could sign with Napoli, who have a brand new manager and an obvious need for a starting goalkeeper with Pepe Reina heading to Milan on a free transfer this summer. Or, he could sign with Juventus, filling a roster spot that is vacant with Buffon’s grand departure last weekend.
Why, with all the goalkeepers that Juventus could sign for relatively cheap prices that will be more than adequate backups, is Perin the choice?
And why, with Wojciech Szczesny already being anointed next season’s starter in goal by just about everybody from Max Allegri to Andrea Agnelli, would Juve go after Perin for what is almost certainly going to be an eight-figure transfer fee?
Besides the obvious statement of “Perin is good,” there might be a method to Beppe Marotta’s madness.
Think about when Marotta first took over as the main man who constructed Juventus’ roster. Who was one of the first players he signed? Marco Storari. There was obviously a reason to sign him with Buffon getting hurt at the World Cup just weeks prior, but Storari was coming off arguably the best season of his long career to date.
Two years ago, as Storari moved to Cagliari to try and help the club get back into Serie A, Marotta brought in Neto on a free transfer from Fiorentina.
And then, last summer, as Neto headed to Valencia to seek more playing time, Wojciech Szczesny arrived with the assumed caveat that he would be the starter once Buffon stepped aside.
What do all three of these guys have in common?
They might have been the No. 2 goalkeeper on Juventus’ depth chart, but they were still considered amongst the best goalkeepers in Serie A at the time.
I think we can say the same about Perin, who has bounced back from two serious knee injuries over the last two years to start to resemble the promising youngster many thought he was.
It’s nothing against Carlo Pinsoglio. He seems like a very nice fellow and the jovial kind of guy that every team needs to create a healthy locker room dynamic on a day-to-day basis. But when you take into account that somebody with all of one Serie A appearance to their name suddenly one Szczesny injury away from being Juve’s starter in goal, I get it.
Perin hasn’t scoffed at the fact that his potential playing time will take a dip when the inevitable seems to happen and he signs with Juventus in the not-so-distant future. He has welcomed the given competition that comes with being on the same team as Szczesny, seems perfectly fine with the fact that playing time won’t be a given.
And if that continues to be the case, then it’s all good. Because, for that rumored €15 million pricetag that has reportedly been agreed upon, getting somebody of Perin’s quality is a deal that makes sense for both present and future.
If Marotta wants a strong competition between two very good players in goal, then that’s most certainly his prerogative. As interesting as it will be to see how the whole situation plays out three, four or five months into the 2018-19 season, it’s nice to know that Juventus, even without Buffon, will still stake claim to the fact that they have two of the best goalkeepers Serie A has to offer.
Plus, that hair. That beautiful, beautiful hair.