Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon could be heading for Manchester this summer in one of the biggest transfer deals of the close season and Italian sources believe City are poised to outbid United for a man ranked by many as the world’s number one. There may be not one but TWO stumbling blocks for City however and United’s late victory at Eastlands on Saturday may well scupper any hopes the Blues may have had.
Both involve their ability to clinch fourth spot on the table and Champions League qualification. Doubts persist on the ability of Roberto Mancini to hold on to his job at Eastlands should they fail which will impact on Buffon’s decision, then there is the question of whether the keeper is prepared to go to any club which will not be competing against the very best in Europe.
Italian reports suggest United will offer Nemanja Vidic plus £20 million cash for Buffon, while City have the ability to match Juventus’ £30 million asking price. Sir Alex Ferguson is reluctant to lose Vidic, but there has been speculation all season that the centre half wants to quit for a warmer climate as his wife has failed to settle in England.
The biggest stumbling block for Ferguson though is Buffon’s wage demands of £4 million after tax and with a new high rate of tax imposed in England, that would make the Italian by far the highest earner at Old Trafford.
It will be a sizeable dilemma for Ferguson because while he will no doubt have the security of a tried and proven keeper between the posts, Vidic has to be valued at a minimum £20 million on the European market. When the cash amount is factored in, the 32 year old Buffon will cost the club a total of around £40 million plus the huge wages he demands.
Juventus have suffered a wreck of a season and are looking to rebuild. Buffon, a prime asset who could be cashed in by the Bianconeri, said of a potential move from Juventus, who he joined from Parma in 2001 for a then world record £23 million fee “The decision does not depend on where we finish in the table or whether we qualify for the Champions League, although we must carry on in these circumstances and at the end of the season we’ll see what happens.”
Buffon was one of a number of players who stayed with Juventus despite an enforced 2006 relegation following the calciopoli corruption scandal.
The Italian media revealed on Sunday “Three weeks ago Roberto Bettega – Juve’s vice director general, said that Gigi was untouchable, and that he will stay in Turin. However, three years ago Juve made a pact with their players, a gentleman’s agreement, that if they stayed when they were relegated to the Serie B, they would be allowed to go after three years if the club failed to get back to their glory days.
“But for Buffon to leave Juve, the price will have to be right. The fee is £30 million and the player requires £4 million after tax. As Barcelona and Real Madrid have good keepers, the only destination can be England, and while United need a new top goalkeeper to replace Edwin Van der Sar, City have the resources to buy Buffon.”
Blues boss Roberto Mancini has reportedly endorsed City’s interest in Buffon, even though Shay Given was purchased from Newcastle for a significant fee in January 2009. Bayern Munich have also been linked with Buffon as a replacement for Hans-Jorg Butt, himself a stopgap after the failure to adequately replace Oliver Kahn.
Juventus already have their eye on a Buffon replacement in Cagliari goalkeeper Federico Marchetti while Villarrreal’s Argentine keeper Diego Lopez is a target who just so happens to share an agent with Rafael Benitez, who is still understood to be considering an offer to take over at Juve where he would be granted a large budget to buy several players including Lyon’s Michel Bastos and PSV Eindhoven starlet Ibrahim Afellay.
Will Buffon be good value for the amount of money that it will cost to get him?