As the 2018 World cup approaches, Gianluigi Buffon moves closer to his final match. Reports say that the legendary shot stopper is set to retire after playing in the world’s biggest tournament once more. His leave will for sure affect his club team Juventus and the Italian national team as Gigi is one of the main figures in both teams.
Italy have always had gifted goalkeepers in each generation: Gianluca Pagliuca, Christian Abbiati, Morgan De Sanctis and, most notably, Sebastiano Rossi. So finding a replacement for the national team looks like an easier task in contrast for Juventus who will need to look into quality options. Current backup Wojciech Szczęsny isn’t the most consistent of goalkeepers and would certainly not fill with confidence the gap that will be left by Buffon. The Old Lady need to look upon a viable long-term successor, someone who could provide confident presence for the Serie A and the Champions League.
Players, fitting that description aren’t that many. Here are three options that would be excellent signings after Buffon’s retirement.
3. Gianluigi Donnarumma
Donnarumma was sent many times to Juventus by the media during the summer transfer window. After a soap opera-like drama with his agent initially claiming he doesn’t want to play for Milan anymore, the youngster eventually extending his contract with the Rossoneri. Nevertheless, this hasn’t put an end to the rumours. And although Juventus would have to play an enormous amount of money for the best young goalkeeper in the world, Donnarumma is the most viable option for a long-term replacement to Buffon.
Donnarumma has already been set to be Buffon’s heir in the National Team and would be very fitting to see him playing for Juventus as well. It seems very unlikely for Milan to sell him though, as club CEO Marco Fassone wouldn’t sell one of his best player to a direct opponent for the Scudetto. Gigio himself has shown passion when playing for the club, especially after Milan’s 2-1 loss to the Bianconeri in Turin. Then a very controversial penalty was given in the dying minutes of the game resulting in a furious reaction from Donnarumma upon heading for the dressing room.
A potential move to Juventus would be a big move for The Old Lady, though it remains something closer to wishful thinking rather than a possible move. That brings us to our next proposal, Jan Oblak.
2. Jan Oblak
Oblak was rumored with an Atletico Madrid exit last summer, but the Slovenian remained with Los Rojiblancos for this season. His words, though, have suggested that the 24-year-old would likely leave the club in next years’ transfer window.
If this turns into reality, Juventus should mobilize all their energy in order to sign him. Landing him at first glance appears like a much more realistic option compared to Donnarumma. Reports around the Slovenian international have been coming around, claiming for supposed preliminary negotiations with Juventus. Oblak himself looks happy enough to make the move to Turin as well.
The most notable obstacle for the switch would be the transfer fee. Oblak’s contract is until the summer of 2021, further more, his latest extension sees a 100 million euro release clause. At first glance that sounds like a crazy amount for just a goalkeeper, but in the age of 200 million wingers it would rather be money well spent. If Oblak arrives in Serie A, Juventus would be looking at a world-class, already established replacement to Buffon.
Oblak has won the Zamora Trophy back-to back for the past two seasons with Atleti, conceding less than 40 goals in 67 matches in the league. Besides that, he has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Champions league over the past two campaigns, Juventus should definitely go full-speed for Oblak.
Kevin Trapp is the definitely the most realistic option for Juventus right now. A step down from Donnarumma and Oblak, but a considerable step up from Szczęsny, Trapp is currently not the first choice keeper at PSG. The German has considerable experience in the Champions League and has shown agility in his shot stopping.
At 27 years old, in the peak of his career a move away from the French capital sounds like the best option for him. Juventus would be getting a talent as well as experience here at that could possibly be a low transfer sum. As PSG is in a hurry to sell as many players as possible to deal with Financial Fair Play regulations, Juventus have an excellent chance to snatch Trapp for around 20 million euros. That appears like a steal, because Trapp is no doubt capable of being the top goalkeeper in one of the best teams in the world.
He might be a downgrade compared to Donnarumma or Oblak but he is talented, cheap option for a Buffon replacement at least for the short-term.
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