Paris Saint-Germain manager Thomas Tuchel has said that Alphonse Areola is ahead of Gianluigi Buffon in the goalkeeper pecking order at the Parc des Princes.
Buffon arrived in the French capital in the summer having established himself as one of the all-time greats with Juventus and was expected to take over the starting spot at PSG for the upcoming campaign.
However, after an excellent beginning to the season from Areola, Tuchel said the club's academy graduate is the top choice to start, per RMC (h/t Sacha Pisani of Goal):
"The decision is not final but I told Alphonse that he was in my opinion in pole position to be No. 1. He comes from the academy. PSG is everything for him. And he absolutely wants to prove himself to PSG. ... We have a different situation with Gianluigi Buffon, a legend, an idol of Alphonse who is at his side. Both players have very strong personalities."
The PSG boss went on to say that he feels as though the arrival of Buffon has helped bring more from the France international. He also praised the professionalism of the Italian icon when he has been left out of the side.
Buffon started the first three matches of the 2018-19 season for PSG, beginning with the French Super Cup win over Monaco. However, for the last two Ligue 1 matches Tuchel turned to Areola, who was the regular for PSG last term.
Having impressed in both of those matches—wins over Angers and Nimes—Areola continued his fine form during the international break, where he was handed the chance to start for France in the absence of skipper Hugo Lloris:
While there have been times in his PSG career when Areola has looked a little erratic, over the last year he has started to mature.
The Frenchman has grown with this PSG side, improving on all aspects of his goalkeeping. This season he's not only been a smart shot stopper, his command of his area has grown, while he also appears to be inspiring more confidence in the defenders ahead of him on the field.
Jonathan Johnson of ESPN FC suggested some of his best work is often ignored, especially with the presence of Buffon looming:
While Areola is seemingly ahead of his team-mate at the moment, there will surely be a big role for Buffon to play this season still.
Buffon is a leader and talisman for his team; those traits have been missing at the back for PSG in pursuit of the UEFA Champions League in recent years.
At 40 years old, Tuchel will also be aware of the fact he'll need to manage the minutes of the former Juventus man. If he can do so effectively, the Italian and his team-mate should both be razor sharp come the business end of the 2018-19 term.