Gianluigi Buffon has announced his decision to leave Juventus at the end of the season.
The 40-year-old’s last game for the club will be against Verona on Sunday – his 640th in Serie A.
“Gianluigi Buffon has been with us all the way on this long rollercoaster ride of a journey, with its lows and then the return to Paradise. We will be forever grateful for his loyalty,” president Andrea Agnelli said in a press conference on Thursday morning.
“What we now know is that Wojciech Szczesny will be defending our goal next season, as Gianluigi Buffon and so many champions have done before him.”
Buffon recently captained the side to a seventh consecutive Serie A title and was widely believed to be retiring, but he clearly feels he still has the legs to continue.
“Only sure thing at the moment is that Saturday I‘ll play my last game with Juventus. Until 15 days ago I was sure to retire. Now I have received some very important offers, on and off pitch. The most important off pitch is from Juventus. Next week I will decide [my future].
“I’m convinced that Juventus needs to plan for the future and, as someone who has spent many years as a player and several as club captain, I am the first to understand that.
“In Szczesny, Juventus have an excellent goalkeeper, who also has 13 years less than me. Is this the best Bianconeri side of all time? I’m not sure, but certainly the most solid.”
“If I decide to continue my on-pitch career, it will boil down to whether I still have the necessary drive and strength. It’s something that I’d need to think long and hard about. I don’t want to end up playing in lower leagues.”
“I’m proud to have received many proposals for the future, but it’s in my character to launch myself into the next challenge with the utmost dedication.”
Buffon joined Juventus from Parma in 2001 in a £32million transfer and has won nine titles in total in addition to the World Cup in 2006.
However, with 176 Italy caps to his name, he confirmed he would not play for his country again.
And even if he decides he has had enough of playing, he wants to choose his next path carefully.
“I’d like to take courses to become a director, a manager or a trainer, and then choose an option without rushing,” he told Gerard Pique in a recent interview in theplayerstribune.