Why did Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon mention Manchester United today?
There are few goalkeepers held in such high esteem in world football as Gianluigi Buffon. In fact in the modern era for his loyalty, longevity and supreme talent, he may just be in a class of his own.
Now the Italy captain, Buffon commands even more respect from the nations' media and sat down at a press conference earlier today to discuss a multitude of issues ahead of their upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
As well as his thoughts on the Italy squad, the real juicy information the press wanted out of him was his input on Juventus' transfer dealings this summer.
Buffon was quizzed on Stevan Jovetic potentially joining the club, when asked about him specifically, he said that all players who will enhance the club's 'growth' will be welcomed.
Asked to elaborate further on how Juventus need to grow, the goalkeeper's response was that the club need to try to make more of an impact in Europe.
The Italians were knocked out in the quarter-finals by eventual winners Bayern Munich this season, a result and bad luck which he feels the club should not take to heart.
And this was where he brought up United to illustrate his point:
"In this process of growth that we have seen already this year beyond our expectations, we will first arrive at results which now seem unexpected.
"Continue along the lines of last year, at least at the European level, maintain respect which feed the opponents and, if possible, improve the end result, although sometimes this improvement depends on many factors. If Manchester (United) goes out in the second round is not a failure, but it is only because he has met Real Madrid."
Buffon is correct in that the Champions League like any cup competition can be down to the luck of the draw. Even in United's case they did their bit by finishing top of the group, only for Madrid to under-perform their seeding and finish second, hence meeting in the round of 16.
While the point Buffon is making that on paper a quarter-final elimination sounds distinctly average and they are a better team than that, but their result against Bayern was a real concern.
They were knocked out 4-0 on aggregate, one which in hindsight does not look as bad thanks to Barcelona suffering a 7-0 combined reverse, but at least the Spaniards have acted early to strengthen by signing Neymar.
Juventus are struggling to afford either top target Gonzalo Higuain or Stevan Jovetic, and if they really want to progress next season, they will have to find a way to bring in a top attacker.
Otherwise the 'growth' Buffon aspires to may just fall by the wayside and see them stagnate or even move backwards.
Perhaps the goalkeeper is simply trying to use United's example to get his excuses for next season in early.
image: © mikebrown59