Gianluigi Buffon is clearly regarded as one of the best keepers in his generation if not of all time, but he isn’t getting any younger at 35.
This age factor coupled with Buffon’s recent performances for both Italy and Juventus has left many questioning how long he has left before it's time for him to retire?
Last season in the Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich, his performance in that game was the start of signals that when faced with quality opposition his performance is no longer up to standard.
This coupled with a disappointing Confederations Cup for Italy, where he conceded on average two goals every game are just emphasising the fact his standards are dropping.
There will be the argument Italy still managed to finish third in the tournament and that he kept a clean sheet against Spain.
However, in all honesty they should be expected to get to the semi-finals in a group containing Mexico and Japan as teams ranked lower than themselves and Spain seemed to be physically drained as the tournament progressed.
However, his time isn’t quite up yet after he signed a contract in January 2013 to keep him at Juventus until 2015.
In addition to this, last season whilst retaining their Seria A title, Buffon was part of the meanest defence in the league conceding just 19 goals.
So this fact shows that in the league he still possesses the quality needed to win a league championship. However, it must be observed that the standard of quality in the Italian league has diminished in previous seasons.
Therefore it could be argued that the accomplishment of being part of the meanest defence is an expected achievement of a team containing the likes of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.
In addition to this, with him being a central figure in Prandelli’s plans, it is still largely expected that Buffon will start in goal for Italy in the forthcoming World Cup - should they qualify.
However, I believe that this tournament will probably be the last World Cup in Buffon’s international career but he does have an outside chance of potentially making the European Championships in 2016.
With the World Cup being Buffon’s potential swan song for the Azzurri, this might help Buffon raise his performances back to the form he showed in Italy’s victorious 2006 World Cup.
Overall, Buffon is still a great keeper and could walk into most domestic and national teams across the world.
His performances of late have offered some signals, that this great keeper is entering into the twilight of his career and in the near future there will come a time when he will have to hang up his gloves.
Until this moment comes, we should continue to admire one of the greatest keepers in the history of the game.
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