Gianluigi Buffon will likely retire after the 2018 World Cup. That is not a secret.
The 39-year-old goalkeeper will be 40 once the season ends, and all signs indicate he will end his playing days sooner than later. His departure will likely leave a void on both Juventus and the Italy national team, as Buffon is one of the biggest leaders on both teams.
Italy might have an easier time replacing him since they have always had talented goalkeepers. But Juventus will need to find a replacement in the transfer market. Wojciech Szczęsny is not the long-term – or even short-term – answer for the club, and The Old Lady need to replace Buffon with a world-class shot-stopper that can become a key presence for both the Serie A and the UEFA Champions League.
There aren’t many players that can fit into that description. But here are three options that Juventus could sign to replace Buffon once the veteran decides to hang up his gloves for good.
Donnarumma was heavily linked with a move to Juventus during the summer. But even though the 18-year-old chose to extend his contract with AC Milan, that hasn’t stopped experts from keeping the rumour alive. And while Juventus will likely have to pay a hefty sum to acquire one of the top young goalkeepers in the world, Donnarumma is the best option in case The Old Lady want to find a long-term replacement for ‘Gigi’.
Donnarumma has been tipped as Buffon’s successor on the National Team. And how fitting would it be to have him playing for Juventus as well? It remains to be seen whether Milan want to sell him, though, especially considering The Rossoneri side are not likely to sell one of their best players to a direct opponent. But Donnarumma is reportedly keen to join the reigning Serie A champions. And Juventus should make everything they can to sign him as soon as possible.
It is going to be increasingly difficult to sign him, especially after Donnarumma extended his contract with Milan during the past summer. But Donnarumma has proven his worth. He is an 18-year-old who already established himself as a regular in one of the most important teams in the world. And moving to Juventus would represent an important next step in his career, just like Buffon did when he moved from Parma to Juve. At least on paper, Donnarumma seems like a great option to takeover Buffon’s place once the veteran retires. Their careers have taken a similar path so far.
Oblak was tipped for a move away from Atletico Madrid this summer, but the Slovenian goalkeeper decided to remain at Los Colchoneros for one more year. And if we take his words for granted, then all signs indicate the 24-year-old will leave the club during the next summer.
If that’s the case, then Juventus should do everything they can to land him. In fact, it doesn’t seem far-fetched to treat Oblak as the first option to replace Buffon even before Donnarumma. Signing Oblak could be easier than the AC Milan star, and there have been reports that Juventus have already engaged in preliminary talks with the Slovenia international. By the way, Oblak is reportedly keen to complete a switch to Juventus Stadium as well.
The main problem to land Oblak could be the transfer fee. The Slovenian remains under contract with Atletico until the summer of 2021. To make things even more difficult, his latest extension included a €100M release clause. Paying that kind of money for a goalkeeper sounds crazy, but we are coming off a transfer period where PSG spent almost €400 million to sign TWO players. So if Juventus want a world-class goalkeeper, they will have to spend a considerable amount of money.
The numbers back Oblak up, though. He has won the Zamora Trophy in each of the past two seasons with Atletico, conceding just 39 goals in 67 league appearances over that span. And he has been one of the best goalkeepers in the UEFA Champions League over the past two years as well. So he comes with enough experience to replace Buffon if the chance arises.
Okay, this one is a bit of a reach. And quite frankly, adding Trapp to Juventus is a bit of an out-of-the-box idea. He does not represent much of an upgrade over Szczęsny. But considering Trapp is currently out of favour at PSG, and that he already has experience in the UEFA Champions League, it might not be as crazy as it sounds.
Trapp is only 27 years old, so he is on a proper age to move elsewhere. And since goalkeepers tend to hit their primes around the 30-year-old mark, Juventus could be getting a talented, experienced goalkeeper at what could easily be a discount rate. Let’s remember PSG need to sell as many players as possible to comply with the Financial Fair Play rules. So there is a chance Juventus can get Trapp for a sum around the €20M mark. That alone would be quite a win. Because Trapp is definitively good enough to be the top goalkeeper in one of the best teams in the world.
He might represent a downgrade when compared to Donnarumma or Oblak. But he is very talented, and could definitively be a cheap option to replace Buffon. At least on a short-term scenario.
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