Player Features

How to replace a living legend?

October 10, 2016 - 10:34 am


Santo Buffon is rightly regarded as one of the greatest keepers of all time. His career at Juve has been a testament to loyalty, decorum, outstanding service and dignity. Nobody wants to consider his succession, but at 38 years of age, it is assuredly a major issue which Beppe, Paratici, Allegri, Agnelli and the club as a whole are facing with increasing pressure.

It is rare to find players at the very top who remain at one club for 15 years. When this occurs it is more often than not a sign of not just a special player but also a special man. Gianluigi’s bond with the club and the millions of Juventini world wide is unbreakable in many ways, for he will live long in the hearts of all who have witnessed his talent, devotion to the cause and unwavering ambassadorial quality. Not only has he consistently performed at the very highest level, he has also comported himself both on and off the field in such a manner which befits eternal reverence.

However, the clock is ticking. Whilst he is a freak of nature, and remains in fine form, at some stage we must accept that time will be called on the living legend’s playing career.

This is not intended to present as a eulogy, for I believe with firm conviction that he will remain our number one until the expiry of his contract in 2018. Zoff, a fellow juventino retired after a glittering career aged 41, after lifting the world cup in ’82.

Yes yes! He made a terrible error of judgment in the recent World Cup qualifier against Spain, yet before that moment we were pummelled by the slick passing of the filthy foes, barely showing spirit or confidence or any semblance of cohesion. It was only after that calamity that La Nazionale not only roused from their slumber but very much took the game to our opponents until the final whistle. I am not suggesting by any measure that it heralded the beginning of the end, the onset of old man time catching up with the Great Man’s mind. It was merely a useful catalyst to begin pondering our options for the future.

And so, rather than begin to cover his sterling career, allow my heart to relive the glory and the agony, expound the humble virtues of a player who transcends the prototype footballing mercenary, I aim instead to deliver a brief peek at the options for succession.


The Brazilian was brought in on a free transfer from Fiorentina in the Summer of 2015. It was a fair coup given how well he had performed during his four year spell in Florence. The discussions which were held during the negotiations must have included – we can assume – discussion of playing time; namely if he would have any chance of dislodging Santo Buffon. Why else would a first choice keeper, available on a free, with ambition and experience, move to any club to play second fiddle? Assurances must have been given of his games in the Coppa Italia and perhaps more. Possibly he rolled the dice of risk and decided to bed into the squad and wait for an opportunity which has never appeared. For the man on the throne has – thankfully – remained close to ever present. Which is yet another feather in his crown. His physical conditioning is superb!

In his debut season in black and white, Neto made 8 appearances. First choice for the title winning coppa italia campaign, yet only brought into the first XI other than which when Buffon was struggling with minor ailments. Thus far this term he has made just the one entrance into the field of competitive action, deputising for our Number One in the second half of the 4-0 drubbing of the Sardinians.

His agent, Stefano Castagna, recently made suggestion of agreements not being honoured…

This was not our agreement,”

“When Neto chose to join Juve and to come to Turin, a clearly defined path of growth was laid out.

“If they are now looking for another solution [as Buffon’s successor], we will have to find a solution.

“Neto asked in the summer if he could go and play somewhere else, but the club asked him to remain as Buffon’s understudy.

“He’s made himself available for the club, but in view of his own objectives with the Brazil national team I think there is every reason for him to find a new club in January.”

“Neto definitely married Juve because he considers them a top club, so he would leave with a heavy heart,” 

“But at this point, we need to sit around a table and clear everything up — for the good of Juve and to protect a professional who is appreciated by the whole of Europe and has all of his career ahead of him.

“Juve cannot play with the career of such a good player who all of Europe wanted.”

It is tricky at best to determine if Neto or any other has the potential to step into the holy boots, yet clearly he is a top drawer keeper. Unfortunately, his ambition to play, to forge a place in his national side and to feel the cut and thrust of regular first team action may not align with the form and longevity of the incumbent. I suspect we will try to loan him, for if the club have given any guarantees to the player it confirms that we value his services highly. How highly is another matter entirely. At 27, Neto is in a period of his career where he deserves to be playing, if he is to reach the heights to which he aspires. Unless given chances to gain match sharpness, to mesh with the defence and gain confidence and cohesion, he will push to leave.


23 year old Mattia Perin appears the most likely candidate to usurp Buffon for La Nazionale. Given our proclivity to purchase Italians and the player’s age, I have an inkling that he is very high on our list of potential purchases. Much will depend on how he recovers from his ACL injury suffered in early 2016. He is now back as first choice for Genoa and faring well enough. I personally see him probably top of the list, for his natural talent is rather special, he plays for a club from whom he will surely move if his trajectory of form picks up where it left off last April and he is Italian. There are few goalkeepers of his quality plying their trade at provincial clubs domestically or further afield.


The 17 year old appears ear-marked by Buffon to follow in his footsteps, at least with La Nazionale. Making his debut at 16, the huge 6ft 9 monster of a lad has made the number one spot between the sticks at AC Milan his own and whilst there are moments of impetuous youthful exuberance, his shot stopping, positioning and concentration are astounding for one of his tender years. His precocious talent, blessing from Buffon and choice of agent (Raiola) all place the shot-stopper high on the list of pretenders to the crown.

Donnarumma is a chosen one,’ Buffon said.


Of our own flock, only Nicola Leali appears to stand any chance of finding opportunity in our first team. With a close to solid two seasons under his belt in the top tier, the 23 year old moved to Greek side Olympiacos in the Summer. Certainly his biggest test so far. It has taken a couple of months but Nicola was given the chance to impress in the Europa league recently and produced two sterling performances, one of which found him Whoscored Man of the Match (0-1 v Young Boys).

He has long displayed sublime reflexes and we must harbour hope of his continued blossoming. A return to Italy after Greece, perhaps to replace Neto as our number two, possibly beckons.

It remains to be seen whether the club are able to persuade any of the above to come in as a number two, for I find it hard to believe that Buffon will be ushered out of the first XI, for it will be his decision, his dignity and love for the club will make that decision when the time comes. Until which the club must focus sternly and without emotion on continuing to treat Buffon with the respect he deserves whilst also maintaining a keen eye on the future.

To find a world class reserve such as Storari is very tricky indeed, which leaves us likely having to groom our next number one carefully and intelligently.  Perhaps from afar in the shadows. Leali is the only obvious option to bring in as an understudy, yet the aura of training with and learning from a living legend may well lead to Perrin or Donnarumma appearing in the ranks next Summer.

We must savour every moment of our beloved Gigi…For it is once in a generation to find a player and a man of his calibre.

Forza Buffon

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  • Avatar
    Dar Black October 10, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    How do these guys stack up against Joe Hart? He is a great shot stopper on his day but just loses concentration sometimes.

    He is cost free (prety much), and free to leave Man City. Being across the road from us at Torino gives everybody a good chance to see him. He seems to be doing ok now at Torino, and if he has a couple of good derbies against us then he must figure even at 29 – no age for a keeper. England like Italy have produced some great keepers, and Hart is not shabby even if Pep doesn’t fancy his kicking ability.

    • Avatar
      LMJuveDK October 10, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      Joe Hart to replace our beloved Buffon. You gotta be kidding 🙂 On his best days he might be a good keeper, but not even close to Buffon. He makes too many mistakes and bad decisions. I find this article very interesting. I have thought about this subject too.

      • Avatar
        Dar Black October 10, 2016 at 4:33 pm

        No I am not kidding.. why should I be? The video shows clearly that the raw product is there to be worked with, and very good it is too. He needs some mental coaching to sort out the occasional bad day at the office that’s all. Lots of keepers have them. A year under Gigi next season should be more than enough time to sort him out.

        • Avatar
          Gerald Quinn October 10, 2016 at 7:24 pm

          To my understanding Juve arent looking for a “good gaolkeeper” they are looking for “the next buffon” . If we wanted a good goalkeeper then we just stick with Neto, Our club for the better part of this Generation have been revered for having the best keeper. Hart is to old to ever reach a “Buffon prime” because if he ever does he will to be close to retirement and we are back to step 1.

          In my opinion the best non italian keepers that should be able to reach Buffons heights someday and challenge Neur as a modern legend are
          – Courtois
          – DeGea
          – Leno
          – Karius
          – Dragowski*

          Out of all Dragowski is the obvious choice if u ask me. I like you dont believe there is anyway in hell that Milan will just hand Donarumma to us without at least paying +200% on the price, also with Riola as an agent If we dont become a top money machine club soon, Donaorumma and Kean will go the way of Pogba. Dragowski is the one without the current spotlight and thus the cheapest, He is also just as young and just as good as donarumma, and i think is the easiest to persuade to be second place as his team isnt that big, his league not that strong and int experiance not to high

          Italian keepers who can somneday reach Buffons level :
          _ Donarumma
          _ Leali

          like ive expressed i dont believe for a second that he will join us from Milan, Milan just wont allow it

          ive always liked Perin his reflexes are very Buffon like, and he is a very great goalkeeper, should he be in a diffrent club (not genoa) say an english club or spansh/german club, he would be all the rave

          • Avatar
            Dar Black October 11, 2016 at 9:46 am

            Courtois is no better than Hart – he has just been lucky to have a better defence in front of him. Until this year that is, now look…. leaking badly.

            Hart has actually never had a great defence in front of him, and still managed to cover for that and help MC to success. With the exception of Kompany, before this season City’s defence has been there for the taking of any team prepared to go after it.

          • thegutterpoet
            thegutterpoet October 12, 2016 at 10:19 am

            Great point regarding Courtois. Perhaps his injury played a part but the major difference is that the Chelsea side in front of him is prone to mistakes when before it was not.

            De Gea is far and away the best keeper in the premier league, yet I assume he will head back to Spain to Real or Barca in due course…

            Hart is better than many people assume, though he is prone to the odd sloppy decision. His shot stopping however is more often than not top drawer. I have long been impressed with Butland and Fraser Forster and that Pickford lad has begun his career in the top flight superbly.

            Lloris is top notch, though his age doesn’t fit in with our own time line.

          • Avatar
            Dar Black October 12, 2016 at 11:34 am

            For anyone doubting Hart GP they should watch last nights dismal England performance vs Slovenia, where Hart saved our blushes including that phenomenal double fingertip save – hailed as one of the top 3 greatest ever saves by an England keeper.

          • thegutterpoet
            thegutterpoet October 12, 2016 at 9:35 pm

            I watched the highlights, mate…Hart made a couple of decent classy saves, as he often does, yet from a balanced perspective they are the kind of saves we are accustomed to seeing Buffon make as his bread and butter.

            Also, he does make blunders, where keepers like Buffon, De Gea, Nuer make errors once every decade or two. I think that is the main difference. It is not just shot stopping ability but consistency and that is where – to some degree – Hart has fallen down. on occasion. A worthy back-up to be considered perhaps, but the player wouldn’t countenance that…but not as a replacement as our number one. At least by my reckoning.

  • Avatar
    ho Hi October 10, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Ter Stegen
    Timo Horn
    You all know. The german ones are the best. Especially Horn.

    • Avatar
      Gerald Quinn October 10, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Ter Stergen was good but his recent display at Barca….idk not to convinced, he isnt even the shadow of his former self.
      in my opinion the next best German keepers are Leno and Karius, (of course not counting Neur) But still Donarumma and Perin and Leali all have what it takes to quickly surpass Leno and Karius and Terstergen

  • Avatar
    Gerald Quinn October 10, 2016 at 7:36 pm


    Bartłomiej Drągowski

    He is non Italian, feel you tried to focus on Italian born Keepers, but i mean this kid is just as good if not better than Donorumma, and MUCH Much easier to get, I like Donorumma but dont believe there is a chance in Hell he will ever be in our Ranks anytime soon, Milan will just not allow it

    Drągowski has just as good if not better reflexes

    Drągowsk has just as good shot stopping

    Drągowsk is just as Towering and just as monstrous in size
    Only Notable Diffrence is:
    experience and league difficulty but Fiorentina might change that soon

    if he is given a fair chance at Fiore this year and performs just as good as he has in poland, he will be all the rave alongside Donarumma except more tangible for us

    • Avatar
      Sebastián Quiceno October 11, 2016 at 3:26 am

      Where did you find this guy?, 1st time ever I hear about him. He seems a good keeper.

      Still what makes me wonder if he would even be considered is he is not italian, I think being Italian gives the other choices an edge, since we are not talking only Juve´s next legend but also the Azzurra´s next legend.

      I would welcome the next goalkeeping legend to Juve, even if he is not italian, though I bet we all agree we wish whoever this legend may be, that he happens to be italian.

      Now in all fairness I think there´s every chance that such legend… that Gigi´s true heir doesn´t exist yet. just because Gigi is about to retire doesn´t mean the next legend is a given or that it will break into the scene automatically, much less that he happens to be italian, yet again, meaning such vital decision might present a tradeoff between hiring the next legend, or hiring the best Italian prospect. Also noone guarantees Juve can take hold of him before any other club.

      So I hope management embarks on this quest being realistic and pragmatic about it. Management have proven they do their homework like only a few can, so i´ll pray to God and hope for the best, I hope we can find at least a fitting backup for Gigi, even if only temporarily.

      Now I´ll make it clear, I have no problem with Gigi hanging around until 2018/2019 season.

      • Avatar
        Gerald Quinn October 11, 2016 at 8:57 am

        you’ll laugh if i tell you…Fifa 16 XD not kidding i was 2018 on fifa 15 and looking for a Buffon replacement for my Juve side myself, and i had already played with Perin so i wanted a new keeper i had never played with before and found this guy.

        It makes sense that the next guy Juve is looking for would be an italian…in witch case i would personally vote Perin, but yea being realistic

  • Avatar
    Gerald Quinn October 10, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    If we ever someway/somehow do get ahold of Donnarumma ….Then we better become a top rich club SOOOOON! we already have Kean having Donnarumma also….Well If we dont want to live through a Pogba v2 and v3, the italian league better get more competitive ASAP and we better start bringing in The big $ rivaling R.Madrid/Barca/Bayern and the op 4-6 English clubs who are wiping their assess with dollar bills and using 100’s as blunts XD

  • thegutterpoet
    thegutterpoet October 10, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Indeed I missed a few, yet was focusing domestically…I pondered including Sportielli and Scuffet, though the latter has a fight to regain the number one jersey at Udinese and the former is yet to receive more firm and consistent accolades. Though the Atalanta shot stopper comes across as calm, resolute and dependable. Its the young italian crop I believe we will focus upon, to continue a rich tradition.

    Donnarumma may fit. It entirely depends on how the Chinaman invests. Apparently after the purchase of EU700m+ (I am unsure if that includes the 300m debt?) they will invest a further EU350m over the following three years. If this leads to success, both on and off the field the chances of taking the prodigal son will diminish. If however, they fail to qualify for Europe next year, or the year after, it will certainly be opportunity for Raiola to agitate for the move…Not that champions league football mattered with Pogba. Yet to make more money out of Donnarumma he needs exposure at the highest level, and he is white and italian he is harder to market than a black stylish frenchman. Also his expertise is harder to market. Scoring long range genius goals and dribbling past several players makes the headlines more commonly than heroics between the sticks…

    Out of the foreign options, I believe we will invest in a player we feel can own the role for a lengthy period. So to pick up an established star at another top club seems less likely by at least my own reckoning.

    Courtois at 24 seems a possibility for at 26 (when Buffon retires) he will retain a long career to come.

    De Gea is surely heading to Real at some stage…

    Loris could be an option for a small handful of years.

    I am focused more on this next Summer at the earliest, with 2018 the only potential cut-off point we have to ponder.

    I watch close to solely the premier league and Serie A, other than european competition and international round-ups so I am unsure of who is looking lively elsewhere?

    For example, what the devil happened to Trapp who we were most keen on? He looked exceptional when I researched him a year or two back. Yet now playing second fiddle to Sirigu? The Brazillian Allison appeared absolutely superb, and perhaps we can draw him into the ranks next Summer if he continues to warm the bench at Roma?

    • Avatar
      Dar Black October 11, 2016 at 9:53 am

      Thing with Donnarumma as well GP is that he has that rat as an agent, and we all know what that means. Another round of nonsense and unsettling by him, leading ultimately to his leaving. If we got him in a few years time there is zero chance he would be with us by age 25. The Devil would have had him away to bigger wages and huge transfer fee by then. Does anybody at the club have the will to go through all that sort if nonsense again like with Pogba? I doubt it, I don’t think the fans do for sure.

      • thegutterpoet
        thegutterpoet October 12, 2016 at 10:13 am

        Yep, I cannot help but agree, despite my enthusiasm. Its a relationship which must be called into question though it appears we remain dealing with Raiola, bridges have not been burned. We are fairly well off and remain a draw card for many players eager to play at the highest level. It seems only Pogba to cite as an example where he may have been crafty in his dealings with the club, yet if this is the case I trust the management to avoid repeating mistakes, but that may not mean an end to dealings with Mino.

        I hope Perin regains his fine form, for he seems to fit the bill for our needs, and is not in Raiola’s stable.

        In other news, the idea of Neto heading to Lazio and Marchetti coming in his place is encouraging. An exceptional back-up to Gigi. Doesn’t solve the succession dilemma but it would strengthen us I believe. Always been a great fan of Mad Eyes Marchetti! And we also share a birthday.

  • Avatar
    fidanzata October 10, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    i hope Juve could bid Jan Oblak.from ATM. for me he is a better goalkeeper than Neuer.

    • Avatar
      Gerald Quinn October 11, 2016 at 12:36 am

      wow wow thats a pretty big claim, i dont see Atl Madrid games but would like to see him in action since everyone is talking about him latley, ive always dismissed it as just Atletico fanboy talk, got any clips?

      • Avatar
        fidanzata October 11, 2016 at 12:06 pm

        don’t have any clips. but as far as i remember, he rarely make mistake like Neuer did.
        there is a reason why ATM have the best defense in Euro Top League and so hard to scoring against them.

  • thegutterpoet
    thegutterpoet October 11, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Interesting and believable rumours of an deal already agreed in the shadows for Donnarumma, a sweetener from the Pogba deal courtesy of our darling Raiola…50m. To be taken up over the next 2 years unless AC invest well enough to return to anywhere near the top. Why not eh!

    • Avatar
      Gerald Quinn October 12, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      did he give a time frame? Get us Donnarumma, and dont pull a pogba with Kean, as long as Riaola does that all is forgiven for the Pogba deal

      • thegutterpoet
        thegutterpoet October 12, 2016 at 9:41 pm

        It makes no sense for him to move until there is an opportunity for the number one jersey, so I will suspect the end of the 17/18 campaign.