PARIS (Reuters) - Former Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has signed for French champions Paris Saint Germain (PSG) on a one-year deal with the option of an extra year, the club said on Friday.
“It is with a great feeling of happiness that I join Paris Saint-Germain,” Buffon, who played 176 times for Italy in a 20-year international career, told the Ligue 1 club’s website.
“For the first time in my career, I am leaving my country and only a project this ambitious could have encouraged me to make such a decision. I want to thank the club and the president for their confidence,” the 2006 World Cup winner added.
The talismanic shot-stopper, now 40, said a tearful farewell to Juventus after 17 seasons at the Turin club when he played his last match in a 2-1 win over relegated Verona in May.
Buffon, who was a World Cup winner in 2006, retired from international football in November after Italy’s failure to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Russia, although he later said he was open to returning if required.
Buffon, who made his professional debut for Parma as a 17-year-old in 1995, made his name at Juve, winning nine Serie A and four Coppa Italia titles.
He ended his career at the Turin-based club with 300 clean sheets in 655 matches in all competitions.
Buffon joins a PSG side who claimed a domestic treble last season but have struggled to make a mark in Europe despite spending big on players including Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
However, he will miss the start of their European campaign having picked up a three-match ban for jostling the referee against Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League quarter-finals.
“To have followed the club’s incredible progression in recent years, I know what dreams PSG and its fans have in their hearts,” Buffon added.
Buffon will compete with Alphonse Areola for a starting spot. His experience will also prove valuable to their back-up goalkeepers Kevin Trapp and Remy Descamps.
“I am going to bring all my energy, all my experience and all of my thirst to win to help my new club achieve all the great objectives it has set out for the future.”
Buffon’s move to the French capital is seen as a final attempt by the experienced keeper to add Europe’s elite club competition crown to his glittering trophy cabinet.
He has been on the losing side on three occasions, against AC Milan (2003), Barcelona (2015) and Real Madrid (2017) but PSG are banking on his big-game experience.
“At 40 years old, his passion for football is intact and Gianluigi has found the ideal environment in our project to set himself high objectives transmitting his experience, not only to the other goalkeepers at the club, but to all of our players,” PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said.
“His arrival reaffirms our will to go higher, an ambition that we intend to pursue with a determination just as strong.”
Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris