Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to Leave PSG When Contract Expires

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2019

REIMS, FRANCE - MAY 24: Gianluigi Buffon #1 of Paris Saint-Germain warms up before the Ligue 1 match between Stade de Reims and Paris Saint-Germain at Stade Auguste Delaune on May 24, 2019 in Reims, France. (Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images)
Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain confirmed on Wednesday goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will be leaving this summer, as the player and club failed to reach an agreement over a new deal.

The Italian veteran joined the French side ahead of the 2018-19 season, having ended a 17-year stint with Serie A giants Juventus. The Ligue 1 champions confirmed Buffon's adventure in Paris will end after just one season though:

Paris Saint-Germain @PSG_English

Grazie Grande Gigi 🙏❤️💙 @PSG_English thanks @gianluigibuffon for honouring the Rouge & Bleu shirt 👇 https://t.co/3qxGhKZZgj https://t.co/fevmJ8mc9a

Paris Saint-Germain @PSG_English

🙌 @gianluigibuffon: "Allez Paris! Thank you for everything and good luck!" 🇫🇷 #GrazieGigi https://t.co/dl3RQRbse3

Buffon offered his own thoughts on the departure, per BBC Sport:

"I leave happy to have enjoyed this experience which has undoubtedly helped me to grow. Today my adventure outside Italy comes to an end.

"Ernest Hemingway wrote that there are only two places in the world where people can live happily: at home and in Paris. Today onwards, this will also apply to me: Paris, in some way, will always remain my home... Allez Paris!"

Per Football Italia, Buffon also said, "PSG proposed a contract renewal that I did not feel ready to accept, pushed by my desire to prepare for new personal experiences and new professional challenges."

Buffon made 25 appearances for PSG and while the team once again failed to excel in the UEFA Champions League—they were knocked out in the last 16 by Manchester United in dramatic circumstances—he won the Ligue 1 title with the capital club.

While the 41-year-old is rated as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, there were some small signs late in the season that his standards are beginning to slip. In the final Ligue 1 game of the campaign, he was especially sloppy in a 3-1 loss to Stade Reims.

European football journalist Andy Brassell said he thinks Thomas Tuchel's rotation of Buffon and Alphonse Areola didn't help either player: 

Andy Brassell @andybrassell

One and done for Buffon at PSG. Sad, I suppose, that he might not have got quite what he wanted from it but definitely the right call. Uncertainty last season over the position not good for him, Areola or the club.

Still, as these figures illustrate, when it came to shot-stopping the Italian was one of the best in French football last season: 

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Gianluigi Buffon: Only Walter Benitez (79.5%) had a better save success rate than @gianluigibuffon (77.3%) in Ligue 1 last season For more player stats -- https://t.co/Sno8MZn0fF https://t.co/ujFpXSfHMu

It will be intriguing to see what comes next for Buffon. Although he is not the force of nature he once was between the sticks, he's still operating at a standard few goalkeepers can match.

Additionally, given the success he has enjoyed with PSG, Juventus—where he won nine Serie A titles—and the Italian national team, he can bring a massive amount of experience to a dressing room.

Football journalist Yousef Teclad said he'd like to see Buffon return to his former club Parma, who were promoted back to the Italian top flight last season:

Yousef Teclab @yousef_teclab

Buffon leaving PSG this summer - the football romantic in me makes me wonder if he might end his career at Parma. The reality means likely not. https://t.co/usbl1WTLGT

When Buffon joined PSG he was moving to a club who shared the same desire as him, as neither have won the Champions League. There's no doubt he'll be disappointed at leaving France without achieving that ambition.

At this point in his career, it appears as though that honour will elude the veteran. When he does hang up the gloves it'll be a sad day, but for the time being, there doesn't appear to be any indication he's ready to walk away from the game for good.