This summer’s list of free agents in European football contains some interesting names. While the likes of Adrian Rabiot and Diego Godin have been snapped up by Juventus and Inter respectively, there are two Italian veterans that would surely be on the list of a fair few clubs.
Having moved on from Juventus last summer following an incredible 17 years in Turin, Gianluigi Buffon is at the end of his one year deal with Paris Saint Germain. At the age of 41, it’s clear that this incredible goalkeeper can no longer hold down the number one spot at a top side, however there are surely many teams who would be willing to prolong his career.
Those with a young stopper also on the books would certainly benefit from his wealth of experience, having won every domestic trophy possible alongside a World Cup win with Italy in 2006.
Reports in Italy insist that Marco Bielsa is keen to bring Buffon to Leeds for next season, however the Yorkshire Evening Post were quick to extinguish such claims, citing high wage demands as the reason why this move may not happen.
Porto are another option for the Italian ‘keeper, as they are said to be looking to replace fellow veteran Iker Cassilas, who is expected to retire after recently suffering from a heart attack. What’s clear is that Buffon still feels keen to play football, and whoever snaps him up will benefit from his presence and vast experience.
When Buffon won the World Cup with Italy, midfielder Daniele De Rossi was a relative youngster, named in the squad by Marcello Lippi at just 22 years old. Yet he was instrumental during the final versus France, scoring a penalty in the shootout that eventually saw the Azzurri lift the trophy on that famous night at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
The combative yet hugely skilful player went on to make a total of 117 appearances for his country, in addition to 616 appearances for AS Roma since his debut in 2001. Now at the age of 35, he is no longer able to make the starting lineup every week, and featured just 18 times in the league for Roma last term.
However, it was clear that he was still able to make a large contribution to his team when he did feature, but the club were clearly not of the same opinion. Just before the final game of the 2018/19 campaign, the Captain was informed that he would not be given a new contract, a move that angered supporters of the capital club.
“Now, the greatest gift you could give me would be to set aside the anger and all together unite to blow the wind in our sails, to push forward the only thing that we care about, the thing that comes first and foremost ahead of everything: Roma,” De Rossi wrote in an open letter to fans ahead of his final game. “Nobody will ever love you more than me. Arrivederci.”
His exit undoubtedly still hurts for De Rossi and those who have cheered him on during the last 17 years, but his exit could work in favour of another side in Serie A.
At one time it was unthinkable that this player could pull on any other shirt than Roma, but the midfielder understandably wants to prolong his playing career, and he is clearly capable of doing so. Reports initially suggested he could move to either Boca Juniors or La Galaxy in MLS, but now it seems like his family would rather stay in Italy.
Both AC Milan and Fiorentina are said to be interested in snapping up this free agent, and it will be very interesting to see where his career leads him from this point onwards.
It seems we will see more and more examples of players like Buffon and De Rossi leaving long-term clubs in order to prolong their playing careers, especially with fitness levels constantly improving and allowing veterans to take to the field for just a few years more.