Football News

Gianluigi Buffon: When Federico Chiesa first arrived at Juventus I didn’t think he was that good

By Ben Green

Published: 12:24, 26 July 2021

Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon has admitted he questioned the ability of Federico Chiesa when he moved to Turin last summer.

Chiesa, 23, spent the 2020/21 season on loan at Juventus after signing on a two-year deal from boyhood club Fiorentina. Despite some patchy spells for the club under former manager Andrea Pirlo, in which The Old Lady conceded their Serie A title to Inter Milan, Chiesa flourished.

The Genoese winger bagged eight goals and eight assists in the league as he shuffled across the frontline, while he also notched the match–winning goal against Atalanta in the Coppa Italia final, with his showings north of the country attracting the attention of Roberto Mancini.

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The versatile forward was one of Italy’s stars at Euro 2020, notably producing an inspired performance against England in the final, as Gli Azzurri won the Wembley showpiece on penalties and collected their second win at a European Championship, ending a 53-year wait for continental bragging rights.

Despite his rise to prominence as one of Italy’s next big stars, following in the acclaimed footsteps of his father, Enrico, Buffon says he didn’t understand the hype when he first joined Juve last summer.

Buffon told Gazzetta dello Sport: “When he arrived at Juve I didn’t think he was so good. I am honest. In the European Championship he was unbelievable, in the final match with England, it was impossible to stop him.

“After a season at Juve with Federico it is no longer a surprise for me, but it was not obvious that he would be able to play at such a high level in a tournament like the European Championship.

“If you do those things at such a high level, then it means that you are really special.”

Chiesa so far

After emerging on the scene with Fiorentina, for whom Chiesa made over 150 appearances with, the up-and-comer relocated to Juve last summer, joining on an initial €10m loan deal, with an option to buy for €50m.

A hefty price tag for a temporary acquisition, but Chiesa has more than vindicated that loan fee since trading Tuscany for Turin. Not only did he net eight goals and register eight assists, but he also created a staggering 17 big chances for the club in 2020/21, the most of any player at Juve.

For context, his 18 big chances created (registering one with Fiorentina before his move) was bettered across the entire division by just three players last season: Ruslan Malinovskiy (19), Rodrigo de Paul (20) and Josip Ilicic (20).

That kind of playmaking output will certainly have caught the attention of Massimiliano Allegri, who recently succeeded Pirlo in Juve hotseat. The Italian returns to his former club two years after leaving and will be tasked with reclaiming the Scudeto off Inter.

Chiesa meanwhile has continued to be linked to every big club under the sun, with La Gazzetta dello Sport recently claiming Liverpool had a €100m bid rejected. Allegri will no doubt be desperate to retain his services and build the team around him as Juve set themselves on a war footing for the title.