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Official: Buffon signs with PSG on free transfer

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PARIS (AP) — Free agent Gianluigi Buffon signed for Paris Saint-Germain on Friday.

The veteran goalkeeper penned a one-year deal at the French champion with the option for an additional season.

[ MORE: Belgium’s golden generation reaches World Cup semifinal ]

The 40-year-old Buffon left Juventus this season after 17 years with the Italian club during which he established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

“It is with a great feeling of happiness that I join Paris Saint-Germain,” Buffon said. “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.”

Buffon left Parma in 2001 and made 656 appearances for Juve. He won his ninth Serie A title this season, leading the Bianconeri to a fourth successive league and cup double.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

One of the few trophies missing from his glittering collection, which includes the 2006 World Cup, is the Champions League. He lost three finals in that competition with Juve.

PSG was eliminated from the Champions League at the round of 16 stage this season, having reached the quarterfinals the previous four years.

“I want to thank the club and the president for their confidence,” Buffon said. “To have followed the club’s incredible progression in recent years, I know what dreams Paris Saint-Germain and its fans have in their hearts.

“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.”

[ MORE: England’s “great opportunity” for glory ]

Buffon, former captain of Juve and Italy, retired from the international stage in November after the Azzurri lost a World Cup playoff to Sweden, although he returned for a couple of friendlies.

He made 176 appearances for Italy — a European record — and was voted Serie A’s goalkeeper of the year 12 times.

Buffon’s arrival may mean the end of goalkeeper Alphonse Areola’s PSG career. Kevin Trapp, the No. 2 this season, also appears likely to be sold by new coach Thomas Tuchel.

Buffon will miss his new club’s first three matches in the 2018-19 Champions League, after being suspended for his red card in this season’s quarterfinal defeat against Real Madrid and for comments about the referee.

Buffon gets three-match European ban for Oliver reaction, rant

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Should Gianluigi Buffon continue his illustrious career, he’s set to miss three matches of Europa League or UEFA Champions League play.

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Buffon, 40, was suspended three games by UEFA for his reaction to a late penalty call against Juventus by referee Michael Oliver following a Mehdi Benatia foul on Lucas Vazquez in the second leg of the UCL quarterfinal second leg.

The goalkeeper was given a red card for his reaction, and proceeded to tear into Oliver with vigor after the match, saying he had a garbage can for a heart and lacked the courage to referee on such a stage.

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli called Oliver’s performance “total chaos.”

Italy coach Mancini leaves door open for Gianluigi Buffon

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Italy coach Roberto Mancini says former captain Gianluigi Buffon will still be considered if he wants to return to the national team.

Buffon retired from international soccer in November after Italy lost a World Cup playoff to Sweden, but he recently returned for friendlies.

[ MORE: Next USMNT-Mexico date set ]

Mancini says “(Buffon) wants to continue playing football … Everyone who will play and will be among the best can be considered for the national team.”

Buffon is expected to bid the national team goodbye for good in another friendly on June 4 against the Netherlands at Allianz Stadium. However, at a news conference last week to announce his departure from Juventus, Buffon insisted he had made the last of his 176 appearances for his country.

VIDEO: Gigi Buffon’s tearful goodbye after 17 years at Juve

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TURIN, Italy (AP) It was a day of celebration but also of tears as Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon played his last match for the Bianconeri after 17 years at the club.

Juventus beat already relegated Hellas Verona 2-1 in the final round of the season on Saturday but the result mattered little as the club bid an emotional farewell to Buffon, while it also received a record-extending seventh successive Serie A trophy.

Buffon, widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers ever, announced Thursday that he was leaving Juventus although the 40-year-old World Cup winner has put off retirement to consider offers to play overseas.

Buffon ran out for the warmup first as defender Andrea Barzagli held back his teammates for a few seconds to let the ‘keeper enjoy the reception on his own.

The former Italy captain also spent several minutes under one of the stands behind the goal and had tears in his eyes as he hugged many fans.

A huge banner of Buffon was unveiled before kickoff, while there were continuous chants and songs about him during the match.

Buffon, who could be seen at times wiping away tears, had hardly a save to make.

His opposite number, Nicolas, was far busier and saved a late penalty from Stephan Lichtsteiner, who was also playing his farewell match for the club.

Paulo Dybala almost gave Juventus the lead shortly before the break but his chipped effort came off the crossbar.

Juventus broke the deadlock four minutes after the interval when a corner was played short and Douglas Costa dribbled into the area. His effort was saved by Nicolas but Daniele Rugani tapped in the rebound.

Miralem Pjanic doubled Juve’s lead three minutes later with a trademark free kick.

Buffon was substituted in the 63rd to an emotional standing ovation. He was hugged by all his teammates and staff as he struggled to hold back the tears.

Alessio Cerci scored for Verona in the 76th to end Juve’s bid to set a new Serie A record of 23 clean sheets in a season.

Buffon moved to Juventus in 2001 and has made 656 appearances for the club.

He won his ninth Serie A title with Juventus this season, leading the Bianconeri to a fourth successive league and cup double.

Two other league titles were stripped from the club due to the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal. Also as punishment, Juventus was relegated to Serie B but Buffon stayed and helped it win the second division and bounce straight back up.

Among Buffon’s records for club and country is the longest time in Serie A without conceding a goal when he was unbeaten for 974 consecutive minutes in the 2015-16 season.

Michael Oliver branded “total chaos” by Juve president; Buffon seethes

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Juventus manager Max Allegri says referees, yes plural, decided the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal between his club and Real Madrid.

The Serie A powers clawed their way back from a 3-0 first leg deficit and seemed destined for extra time after two goals from Mario Mandzukic and an equalizer from Blaise Matuidi.

[ RECAP: Real 1-3 (4-3 agg.) Juve ]

But Mehdi Benatia knocked down Lucas Vasquez before the latter could head home a stoppage time winner, and Cristiano Ronaldo converted the penalty awarded by Michael Oliver.

That added to Allegri’s frustration from a first leg, stoppage time penalty not given to Juve in Turin.

“I feel bad for the lads who did well in Turin for 60 minutes and didn’t score the goals they did tonight,” Allegri said via Football Italia. “The penalty tonight was basically the reverse of what happened on Juan Cuadrado in the first leg… I said even at the time that incident would decide qualification.”

[ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo reacts ]

Allegri also said he was saving a pair of what he believed to be game-changing substitutions for extra time, and said the ref decided the tie.

Gianluigi Buffon, who was sent off for his protest of Oliver’s decision, was less reserved, saying Oliver wanted to play a major role in the match (from Football Italia):

“Clearly you cannot have a heart in your chest, but a garbage bin. On top of that, if you don’t have the character to walk on a pitch like this in a stadium like this, you can sit in the stands with your wife, your kids, drinking your Sprite and eating crisps.

“You cannot ruin the dreams of a team. I could’ve told the referee anything at that moment, but he had to understand the degree of the disaster he was creating. If you can’t handle the pressure and have the courage to make a decision, then you should just sit in the stands and eat your crisps.”

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli was also quite angry, calling for VAR after the game.

“The referee tonight was in total chaos,” Agnelli said. “It’s a pity, the performance of the boys remains, we confirmed – as did PSG last season and Roma last night – proved you can come back from 3-0 down to turn things around.”

The penalty is one of those calls that is only controversial because of when it took place, as most wouldn’t begrudge the award were it not stoppage time of a UEFA Champions League decider.