Gianluigi Buffon got the press conference to explain everything. He got the sendoff so many of us wanted him to get — the standing ovations, the hugs from Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Barzagli, the lap of honor, the Scudetto party in the rain once the final whistle and just about everything in between. It was the kind of day, even with all of the tears that were shed by folks at Allianz Stadium and around the world watching at home, Buffon deserved.
It was because we thought
Fourteen months later, Buffon is back in bianconero.
Juventus has announced the official return of their former captain, with Buffon signing on for one more season before it is anticipated that he will take a place in the club’s front office. Buffon will earn a reported €1.5 million plus bonuses during the span of his one-year contract, serving as the backup to the man who was his backup the last time he played in Turin, Wojciech Szczesny.
We don’t know if Buffon will reclaim his fabled No. 1 jersey. But what we do know is that, after one season abroad in Paris, San Gigi is back at the club where so many of his best moments as a professional took place.
The official announcement, from juventus.com:
After a year away from Turin, Gianluigi Buffon has returned to Juventus, after penning in a one-year contract which will tie him to the club until 30 June 2020.
It was 19 May 2018. That was the day when there were tears in everyone’s eyes; when Gigi said goodbye to Juventus, it’s fans and vice-versa. It was the bidding of a farewell to someone who was more than just a captain, but a legend and a symbol of the club.
Probably each of us hoped, and in the end, knew that the yarn that united us for so many years was not destined to break. And that was the case.
After a year with Paris Saint-Germain, where Gigi registered saves on 73,5% of his attempts, won 13 of 17 games played in Ligue 1, and added a French league title along with a Super Cup to his incredible trophy cabinet, Gigi has officially returned to Juventus.
Buffon is back home!
OFFICIAL| @gianluigibuffon is back in Bianconero! ⚫⚪— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) July 4, 2019
Welcome home, Gigi! ❤️
➡️https://t.co/He2dq1mZbn #WelcomeBackGigi #LiveAhead pic.twitter.com/zIzTOMIvM6
The obvious difference between the last time we saw Buffon in a Juventus jersey and the start of next season will be his anticipated role at the club.
Buffon will no longer be Juve’s captain. He will no longer be one of the club’s highest paid players or somebody expected to be a crucial part of Juventus’ on-field success. He might not even wear the jersey number we’ve become so accustomed to seeing him wear the past two decades. Instead, Buffon is here to be Szczesny’s backup — at least that’s what everybody is thinking will be the goalkeeper hierarchy next season — and a strong locker room presence that will help first-year manager Maurizio Sarri during the early stages of what is the biggest job of his coaching career.
We don’t know how much Buffon will figure into Sarri’s plans. And based on the season he’s coming off of, the job should certainly be Szczesny’s without any single doubt. Buffon could appear in five games, 10 games, 15 games ... we don’t know right now.
But, what we do know is that San Gigi is back at the club that he deserves to retire at.
Welcome back, old friend. Your big grin is a welcome sight.