Buffon looking for 'new challenges' in Italy after PSG exit

Paris (AFP) –


Gianluigi Buffon said Wednesday that he will return to Italy after agreeing to leave Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the month, with the World Cup winner looking for "new challenges" in his home country after a year in the French capital.

Ligue 1 champions PSG had announced earlier that both club and player had agreed not to renew the former Italy captain's contract, which expires on June 30, after an underwhelming spell between the PSG sticks.

"Today my adventure outside Italy ends: PSG offered me a contract renewal that I didn't feel it was right to sign given my desire for new experiences and professional challenges," the 41-year-old wrote on Instagram.

The veteran goalkeeper, who won the World Cup in 2006 and is Italy's most-capped player with 176 appearances, did not say he would retire as a player and did not specify what challenges he was seeking.

However late on Wednesday Buffon's agent revealed that he had no intention of retiring and was still figuring out his next move.

"Gigi will not stop playing," Silvano Martina told Lazio fan radio station Citta Celeste, adding that Buffon has hometown side Carrarese and Serie A outfits Genoa and Lazio "close to his heart".

Buffon has for a long time had a friendly relationship with Lazio supporters and has said that he had considered a move to the Rome-based club after he left Juve last year, before eventually choosing PSG.

"My client told me that he wants to take two days out to relax and think about his future with his family," Martina said.

Buffon joined PSG last summer after ending a trophy-packed 17-year career at Italian giants Juventus and played 25 times in all competitions last season, winning the Ligue 1 title and the curtain raiser Champions Trophy.

This season's league title was the 10th of Buffon's career, adding to a bulging trophy cabinet that contains just about every honour in football.

However the Champions League has eluded him despite him spending the bulk of his career at Juve, one of Europe's biggest clubs, and it was hoped that he might break his duck with the Qatari-funded Parisians.

However despite winning the league at a canter, the past season was a poor one for both Buffon and a team with lofty ambitions on the European stage.

They missed out on both domestic cup competitions and most importantly were dumped out of the Champions League by Manchester United in embarrassing style, blowing a 2-0 first-leg lead to go out on away goals following a controversial last-gasp penalty.

Buffon made a crucial error that helped United achieve their remarkable comeback, spilling Marcus Rashford's weak shot into the path of Romelu Lukaku to allow the Belgian to score the away side's second and set up a dramatic finish.