Gigi Buffon is not in question, up until 2018 he will be the leader for both his club and country. However, he will have then been with Juventus for 20 years and CEO Beppe Marotta now will begin the search to find a natural successor. Over the years, many goalkeepers have been compared to the Italian legend so right now, is there anyone out there who could fill the biggest shoes in Italian football?
TER STEGEN – Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the current scheme of things, the closest there is to Buffon. Having been developed by Borussia Monchengladbach, the 24-year-old German international has spent the past two seasons at Barcelona where he played a big part in helping the team to the Champions League trophy of 2015 ironically, against the bianconeri. With Claudio Bravo now having left for Manchester City, ter Stegen has become the number one at the Camp Nou but he has not started the current campaign in the greatest form, culminating with a woeful display in his team’s 4-3 defeat to Celta Vigo last weekend.
DONNARUMMA & THE NEW BUFFON – Staying closer to home, the name on evryone’s lips to become Buffon’s natural successor at both club and country is 17-year-old Milan sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma. The rossoneri are desperate for him to commit his long-term future to the club and they are well aware of the interest being generated by several of European football’s top clubs. Already part of the Italian national team set-up, the youngster is learning first hand from the man he is heavily tipped to one day take over from. Other names that could come into play could be Udinese’s Alex Meret, the 19-year-old currently on-loan at Serie B club SPAL and Mattia Perin, the 23-year-old who is improving all the time at Genoa. By Nicola Balice. Adapted & translated by Steve Mitchell