What does a manager look for in a keeper? Is it maturity and experience which includes domestic and European honors together with a World Cup winning medal? It cannot be easy to find someone who has all those qualifications yet still be capable of offering five, six or more years of service. But one man who can do just that is Juventus and Italy international Gigi Buffon who is reported to be on the radar of Manchester United goalkeeper coach Eric Steele.
Valued at around £16m, Buffon is only 32 years old which in goalkeeping terms still means that he can have many seasons ahead of him. Steele is of the opinion that the current United number one Edwin van der Sar will retire at the end of the season although he is not certain that the intentions of the Dutch veteran are set in stone.
“I think Ed has made his mind up and said this is his last year” he told the Manchester Evening News. “He hasn’t won the FA Cup and that is a big target for him. He has won most things in the game, there is not much left he hasn’t. When we rotate our goalkeepers I think you will see van der Sar knocking on the door and asking the boss to play in the FA Cup” he said.
“If he gets to Christmas and he thinks it is right to go on and the manager thinks it is right we will make a decision” he says “it is down to how he feels and performs. If he doesn’t perform the manager will make the decision. Edwin will as well.”
Sir Alex Ferguson has been linked with a myriad of alternatives to succeed van der Sar but is now ready to prepare a move for the vastly experienced Italian. The Juventus legend has long been linked with a possible switch to Old Trafford, reports are now claiming that United are gearing up a bid for him.
Buffon made it clear last summer that he was not averse to a move to the Premier League and would be interested in a move to Old Trafford where he could challenge for top honours again. His agent has been quick to deny that his client could move to United however “I don’t know where these rumours come from” Silvano Martini said “It is a nonsense, Buffon is out for an injury for three months, who wants an injured player?” Fair comment but we’re talking about someone who will not be required for nearly 12 months.
Steele meanwhile continues to be prepared “I have a dossier ready for if and when the manager and chief executive David Gill says ‘who do you think?” Now the August window has gone it is a question of do we do something in January or the summer. The manager will look at that in most positions anyway. The ultimate decision lies with him. We have to be prepared. The moment he wants to do it I have to say here are the options.”
And depite his agents’ denials, one of those options is certain to be Italy’s 2006 World Cup keeper.
Will Buffon be a good signing at the age of 32?