Paris Saint-Germain has confirmed veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will leave the club after just one season in the French capital when his contract expires at the end of the month.
Buffon, a 2006 World Cup winner with Italy, arrived in Paris last July after making 656 appearances during a 17-year stay at Juventus.
He made 17 league appearances for PSG in its title winning campaign but failed to add the Champions League to his otherwise perfect trophy cabinet after the French club crashed out against Manchester United.
The club tweeted a farewell message to the Italian Wednesday, thanking him for his services.
“A gentleman on and off the pitch and an extraordinary teammate. We wish you the best for the future,” the tweet read.
Posting on his Instagram account, Buffon praised the club fans for making him so welcome during his short stay.
“Ernest Hemingway writes that there are only two places in the world where one can live happily: at home and in Paris,” he wrote. “Paris, in some way, will always remain my home … Allez Paris!”
He also revealed he opted not to accept a contract renewal offer and suggested he may return to Italy.
“Twelve months ago I arrived full of enthusiasm, welcomed by the incredible warmth of the fans. It was really moving. Thank you, once again, with all my heart.
“I leave enriched and satisfied by an experience that probably improved me and made me grow. Today ends my adventure out of Italy.
“Paris Saint-Germain proposed me to renew my contract but I did not feel to accept, driven by the desire to face new experiences.”
The 41-year-old goalkeeper is yet to make a call over whether he will continue playing but, earlier this year Buffon told CNN Sport that international management holds great appeal.
“I wouldn’t want to be the coach for a team, but I’d love to be the coach of a national team,” said Italy’s most capped player.
“I’d love to meet other players, see other places in the world and I want to be known in other places, so the idea of becoming the coach of a national team, to live in another country, to learn another language, adapt to a new lifestyle and another way of thinking, would first and foremost help me improve as a person.”
“I feel within me the need to take this challenge on. I feel the essence of life is to say that at the end of my life I can really be satisfied with what I’ve achieved, because you’ve lived your life to the full.
“What I mean is you’ve absorbed a great deal, faced up to and learned from others, and to impart your knowledge to others and take from others too. Leading an active life is the most important thing for me.”
‘True to my nature’
Buffon, once the world’s most expensive goalkeeper when he signed for Juventus in 2001, has won titles as a player in Italy and in France. But the Champions League crown has always eluded him.
A stunning Manchester United comeback put paid to Buffon and PSG’s hopes in Europe’s premier competition earlier this year. Last season, Buffon was sent off after being enraged by a late penalty call from English referee Michael Oliver in the quarter-final match between Juventus and Real Madrid.
Buffon later said that Oliver had a “garbage bin” for a heart while his actions earned him three game ban from UEFA, European football’s governing body.
Such raw emotion has sometimes led Buffon to be criticized. But he maintains that this is part of his character.
“In the good times and not so good times, I’ve always been true to my nature,” he says.
“At times, my way of being wasn’t appreciated. But I’ve noticed that, in the long run, time has treated me kindly and I’m liked generally speaking, by people for who I am.”
Buffon has certainly been appreciated in the French capital as PSG has racked up its sixth title in seven years.
And he says he has even been forgiven for his role in defeating France in the 2006 World Cup final.
“I believe they (Parisians) have granted me the biggest pardon that a nation could ever grant to an adversary,” he jokes.
The passage of time and the fact that France are current world champions may have something to do with that.
But if Buffon, is looking to replicate the success of a national team to bolster his own managerial ambitions, he could do worse than to learn from the country he currently calls home.