Should Juventus need any further motivation to win the Champions League this season, the threat of losing Gianluigi Buffon to retirement should further fire them up.
Arguably the greatest goalkeeper of his generation, Buffon, 39, has declared that the only thing that would keep him from retiring after the World Cup would be winning European club football’s biggest prize.
In an interview with Sky Italia, Buffon has promised to call it a day after Italy’s World Cup campaign unless he and Juve can win the Champions League after three unsuccessful finals.
The 39-year-old hopes to play in next summer’s World Cup and would extend his career for the Club World Cup if Juventus won Europe’s elite trophy.
The Serie A side have been beaten in the Champions League final twice in the past three years.
“This is my last season and I’m pretty sure of the choices I make,” he said.
“One or two more years wouldn’t add or take away from what I’ve already achieved.
“The only way would be to win the Champions League. At that point, to try to win the Club World Cup, maybe (Wojciech) Szczesny could play one game and me another.
“But I think with a goalkeeper like him behind it is normal that next year I’ll stand aside,” he told Sky Italia.
Buffon, who began his career at Parma before joining Juventus for £23m in 2001, was named goalkeeper of the year at Fifa’s The Best awards on Monday.
He won the World Cup in 2006 and has also claimed 10 Serie A titles, four Italian Cups, and a Uefa Cup, but has never won the Champions League.
Juve lost last season’s final to Real Madrid 4-1 in Cardiff, the third time Buffon has tasted defeat at the competition’s final hurdle, leaving him wanting more from what is likely to be his final season.
‘I think last year was outstanding for me and for the team. It was not enough to win in Europe and I hope that this year we can go one better, both with Juventus and the national team,’ he told Mediaset.
‘I want to end my career with a big victory. Twelve years ago, I won the World Cup, yet I’ve lost three Champions League finals.’