Italy news

Buffon still my No.1 keeper - Prandelli

August 19, 2013
By Ben Gladwell, Italy Correspondent

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has said veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon remains his No.1 -- but that he needs to stay sharp in order to keep the competition at bay.

Confederations Cup
GettyImagesBuffon faces competition from Marchetti and Sirigu.

Some commentators expressed doubts over Buffon’s status after he experienced some uncertain moments during the Confederations Cup but, as the 35-year-old prepares for his 19th season as a professional, Prandelli said he had no such concerns.

“With me, Buffon is and remains first choice,” he told Sky Sports. “He still has to look over his shoulder, though. [Federico] Marchetti and [Salvatore] Sirigu are both improving a lot. The former has regained consistency and assuredness and the latter is maturing with important experience at Paris Saint Germain.”

Meanwhile, Hellas Verona forward Luca Toni has said he has not given up hope of returning to the international fold. The 2006 World Cup-winner, now 36, hopes his move to the Serie A newcomers will give him the chance to stake a claim for a return.

“I’d have to score a great deal of goals to be called up again, but I want to get as many as I possibly can,” he told TGGialloblu.it. “I want to score as many as I can for Verona to keep them in Serie A.”

The former Fiorentina and Bayern Munich striker has been in fine form in pre-season, netting eight goals in friendlies and Coppa Italia matches, and could turn out to be one of the shrewdest summer signings in Serie A.

But Prandelli believes the plaudits for the best business should be shared by Napoli and Fiorentina, with the arrivals of Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Gomez capturing the imagination.

“Napoli and Fiorentina have made and are making their fans dream,” he said. “This, for a club, is an extraordinary achievement. They have raised the expectation levels and win the Oscar for the best transfer dealings.”

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