Italian football legend, Gianluigi Buffon, has joined French club Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer after leaving Juventus in the close season. Buffon has had a long and successful career which has seen him win nine Serie A titles and several other accolades including the FIFA World Cup with the Italian national team.
A unique union
After spending over two decades in Serie A — with 17 of those years spent as Juventus’ goalkeeper — the 40-year-old leaves his native Italy to play in a different league for the first time in his career. The union with the Paris-based club is one of a kind as both parties are coincidentally in pursuit of a similar goal which is to win the UEFA Champions League for the first time.
PSG’S ambition to conquer Europe has been more of an open secret for years now. The French giants have dominated domestic football for years, yet always come up short on the continent. High profile players like the mercurial Zlatan Ibrahimovic and managers like the trophy-winning Carlo Ancelotti have come and gone but the club’s ambition to rise to the pinnacle of European football has remained a pipe dream.
Perseverance at PSG
Three successive quarter-final exits from the Champions League in the last three years have been difficult to take for the club’s faithful, but the PSG hierarchy is determined to go the extra mile to put an end to the nightmare.
Transfer records were broken last season to bring in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe from Barcelona and Monaco respectively in order to mount a brutal challenge for for honours in Europe. But even that proved not to be enough as the club fell again at the quarter-final stage, this time to eventual winners Real Madrid. As has been demonstrated in different quarters and many a success story, perseverance does bring success and so the club hierarchy has refused to give up.
After losing a treble of finals in the competition himself, Buffon has faced a similar predicament as the club. The Champions League trophy has famously eluded the former Parma shot-stopper. Still at the top of his game after helping Juventus claim a seventh straight Scudetto last season, Gigi has refused to retire. He has instead chose to team up with PSG to give the dream one more shot.
Buffon: the missing piece in puzzle?
The partnership will be of great benefit to both parties as the goalkeeper brings with him tremendous experience that will prove vital for the club’s ambition. It will also be beneficial for the club’s other players especially goalkeeper Alphonse Areola who will have a thing or two to learn from the veteran.
Goalkeeping errors contributed to the PSG’s ouster from the competition last term and the club is determined to prevent a repeat of such this time around. With the requisite experience now available on every part the pitch, Les Parisiens will stand a better chance of getting past other experienced sides in the competition like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
The club will, however, need to avoid losing some of its best players to achieve its aim. Rumours have been rife about players like Neymar, Mbappe and Edinson Cavani being in high demand elsewhere. Some others may also be seeking a move away from the club for a new challenge or experience. But if the club can pull off another transfer surprise like it did last season by snapping up players like Chelsea’s N’golo Kante to fortify the midfield, that may well be the piece that completes the jigsaw.
Interestingly, the club has also failed to take advantage of the country’s abundant talent. French footballers are some of the best in the world at the moment. The creme de la creme of European sides they play for and even their performance at the ongoing World Cup is enough evidence of that.
Paul Pogba is rumoured to be unsettled at Manchester United. Samuel Umtiti is one of the best central defenders in the world and provides solidity at the back for Barcelona. Rafael Varane is a serial winner with Real Madrid. Antoine Griezmann is helping Atletico Madrid compete in La Liga and conquer Europe. All of these French players are available out there while PSG struggles in Europe. If these players were at the club, who knows? The UCL trophy drought could have become a thing of the past by now.
Ready for the big guns
Be that as it may, the team is already strong enough to challenge the big guns. Beating Barcelona 4:0 at the Parc des Princes two seasons ago, and Bayern Munich 3:0 last term is proof of that. Lack of self-belief and assurance at the back, as well as inexperience between the posts ultimately cost the team progress in both seasons.
That is what makes Buffon’s signing a real coup. The World Cup winner and nine-time Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year steps into a team that is clearly an upgrade on Juventus. It is a union that could provide the missing link for both club and player in the competition. PSG is already a strong team. Add Buffon to the mix and it becomes even stronger. Both are already winners but together they can win the one trophy that has eluded them both for so long, and rewrite their history.