Juventus announced on Thursday that Mattia Perin has signed a contract extension that will keep him tied to the club until 2025. The announcement followed a report earlier in the day that claimed a renewal was imminent.
The signing is noteworthy for a number of reasons, chiefly that Perin was one of a gaggle of expiring contracts (non-Dybala division) that we still didn’t know what Juve was going to do with. With Perin now signed and Juan Cuadrado reportedly coming back next year after reaching a vesting option in his contract, that picture now has a little more clarity.
Perin first came to Juventus in 2018. Having been the starter at Genoa for five years at that point and established himself as one of Italy’s best young keepers, he was signed on a €12 million deal the summer after Gianluigi Buffon departed the club for the first time.
The problem was, Wojciech Szczesny was already on the team, and he had been excellent in relief when Superman missed several months in the middle of the season with a leg injury. Perin had ostensibly been brought in to compete with Szczesny for the starter’s job, but after his work the previous season it was pretty clear Woj was going to get the first crack, and he never let the job go.
Perin made only nine competitive appearances in his first season, which ended prematurely thanks to a shoulder injury. The next season Buffon returned to be the No. 2 keeper, leaving no space for him. A potential summer transfer to Benfica was scuppered by his lingering shoulder problems, and after being frozen out of the team for half a season he went back to his boyhood club in Genoa on loan, where he spent the next season and a half before he was retained this year to back up Szczesny, likely because he was an in-house option for a team that didn’t necessarily have the money at that point to go hunting for another backup.
In hindsight, Perin’s decision to join Juve was rather puzzling. Sure, it was indicative of having a lot of confidence in himself to go out and win the job, but there were several high-level starting spots available in Serie A that summer. Roma had just lost Alisson Becker on a big-money move to Liverpool and Napoli were also looking for a No. 1 after closing the book on a three-year stint by Pepe Reina. At the time, Perin would’ve been the unquestioned starter at either club—and both have been somewhat unsettled in goal since. Instead, Perin lost a competition that, frankly, was never really there and his career has stagnated since.
It was a mild surprise to see Perin return to Juve to back up Szczesny, and moreso a surprise to see him renew for three more years, reportedly at a lower salary, rather than seek the starter’s gloves elsewhere. On the few occasions he has played this year—all three of Juve’s Coppa Italia games, plus the Supercoppa and three league matches—he’s proven that he’s still a solid goalkeeper. Had Szczesny not righted himself after a horrific start to the season he could well have gotten a chance to play more regularly, but right now, even at only 29, he’s chosen to remain behind the big Pole, even though he would clearly be starting material elsewhere.
For whatever reason, though, he has chosen to remain, which will be to Juve’s benefit. Having a quality keeper in reserve in case of emergencies is always good, and Juve probably now have the best No. 2 situation in Italy for the next three years.