Paolo Maldini has said he would be honoured if Gianluigi Buffon beat his Serie A appearances record and would not be surprised if the 39-year-old played another season in order to be able to do so.
Buffon has made 629 appearances in Italy’s top flight, but with 17 games of the season remaining would only be able to reach 646 this term — one short of Maldini’s record.
The Juventus goalkeeper, who is 40 on Sunday, would therefore need to play on into next season in order to beat the record.
And former Italy and AC Milan defender Maldini told Sky Sport Italia: “Is Buffon really only 40? It’s impossible.
“Joking aside, he’s not yet announced his retirement. If he didn’t beat my record then I’d be happy to keep hold of it, but if he does I would be honoured that it would be him overtaking me.
“He’s the greatest goalkeeper of the past 30 years.”
Buffon is set to return to training on Wednesday after missing Juve’s past six Serie A games with a calf injury.
On Monday, Wojciech Szczesny made his 11th Serie A appearance of the campaign to Buffon’s 10 and his 14th overall, in which he has kept 10 clean sheets.
However, Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri said on Sunday that Buffon was still his No. 1 choice when fit, and he is expected to return for Saturday’s game against Chievo.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.