Say Im your No.1: Buffon faces PSG fight

Mon 30 Jul 2018 at 19:38 Sports

NNA - Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon has a fight on his hands for the Paris Saint-Germain goalkeepers shirt as coach Thomas Tuchel revealed he had not yet decided who was his No. 1. Buffon has made his first move abroad at the age of 40 but faces stiff competition at the French club, which shares his ambition of a first Champions League title. Tuchel has an embarrassment of goalkeeping riches including Alphonse Areola, a member of Frances World Cup-winning squad, German international Kevin Trapp, Sebastien Cibois and Remy Descamps.

"Hes [Buffon] not afraid to fight for his place, Kevin and Alphonse are not afraid to fight for their place," Tuchel said in Singapore, ahead of Mondays friendly with Atletico Madrid.

"This is the kind of competition that I would love to have in every other position."

The German added: "This is a situation we need to handle relaxed but clearly. When everybody is there and everybody has shown up and everybody is healthy at the top level, then its time to decide."

Buffon has not had the easiest of starts with PSG, shipping four goals in his first two friendly appearances against Bayern Munich and Arsenal.

Buffon, who clocked up 656 appearances in 17 years at Juventus, insisted he never expected simply to be handed a starting spot.

"In 24 years of my career, nobody has ever told me that I had the No. 1 shirt by right. Its come through hard training and being selected based on merit," he said.

"So Ill continue to do that and also work toward developing the other goalkeepers in the squad."

The 2006 World Cup-winner also denied that the chance of winning an elusive Champions League title was the main motivation behind his move to PSG on a one-year deal.

"This decision was made so I could continue ... to play at the top level," he said.

"Ive always been excited by the thought of a challenge abroad, a challenge as ambitious and important as this one at Paris.

"I think after 40 years in Italy, a change will be good for me from a personal point of view as well as a professional one."

Tuchel, meanwhile, pledged to keep his conversations with Neymar behind closed doors as he weighs up how best to deal with the combustible star.

Neymar, the worlds most expensive player, was widely lampooned for his play-acting at the World Cup, but Tuchel refused to reveal if he would raise it with the Brazilian.

"Im young -- well, not so young -- but I know when I speak about Neymar theres a lot of potential to every word that I say," the 44-year-old German said.

"So the best thing when I speak to him about something that we do this in closed rooms."

Tuchels arrival at PSG follows reports of discord between Neymar and fellow forwards Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani, as well as ex-coach Unai Emery.

Tuchel said he needed a close relationship with Neymar, whose difficult World Cup ended when Brazil were stunned by Belgium in the quarterfinals.

"Im very sure that I have a connection with him and Im very sure that I need to have a connection with these kinds of players," Tuchel said.

"Hes an outstanding player. He knows how to handle big victories, he also knows how to handle defeats, because thats the way sport is.

"Its always a big challenge to bounce back and I will help him with that. [But] what I talk about with him, when I talk with him, its a secret that I keep." ---AFP


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