Thomas Tuchel and Gianluigi Buffon clash over Alphonse Areola
Thomas Tuchel and Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon appear to be on a collision course, amid the rise of homegrown stopper Alphonse Areola.
Buffon joined PSG from Juventus in the summer as a free agent, and the assumption had been that he would be first choice this season - especially following the exit of Kevin Trapp.
The Italian legend duly started the first three matches of the campaign, after Areola only returned to the club after an extended holiday following France’s World Cup success.
But Areola, 25, has since started the last three games. Seemingly he has usurped Buffon as first choice - just as he did Trapp last season.
Now, according to Tuchel, that may well be the case moving forwards, with Areola - who this week made his senior France debut - in 'pole position’ to be first choice.
For his part, Tuchel likes the idea of having homegrown players within his first team and Areola, along with Presnel Kimpembe, Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappe, are the leading lights for PSG in that regard.
And he is clear that Areola - who has spent four-and-a-half of the last five seasons as a first choice either on loan or at PSG - is in a position where he must have regular action.
"Yes I chose. The decision is not final but I told Alphonse that he was in my opinion in pole position to be number 1," Tuchel told RMC Sports.
"He comes from the academy. PSG is everything for him. And he absolutely wants to prove himself to PSG.
"This is a situation that must be respected and capitalised on. We must be proud to have players of this nature, we need this type of players who have the soul of PSG, who embody the club.
"We have a different situation with Gianluigi Buffon, a legend, an idol of Alphonse who is at his side. Both players have very strong personalities.
"We will have to fine-tune things. Gigi knows it, Alphonse knows it, if you get there, in this configuration, to be smart and generous with both, I'm sure we'll be rewarded. And I'm sure that Alphonse will not be good despite Gigi but thanks to Gigi.”
German coach Tuchel, who arrived at the Parc des Princes this summer to turn the club’s Qatari owners’ Champions League dream into a reality, admits he has been happy with Buffon’s reaction to his benching.
"Gigi would have the right to cross his arms on the bench and watch the game but he does not - he supports! It's frenetic! He is present, he communicates with the players, tries to help me... and you understand why he is at the top and has such a career.”
For his part, Buffon has not kicked up a fuss and he has a good relationship with Areola.
However, a watching brief is unlikely to be enough for the Italian, particularly with the return of Europe's premier club competition next week and the 40-year-old still clinging to his own Champions League dream.
He may well be in the twilight of his career, but he made clear in the summer that moving was about a new challenge, a new experience and a continued desire to improve.
If he merely wanted to fade into the background, surely better to do so in Turin, where he was not just respected, but loved, than in Paris?
One to keep an eye on in the coming weeks and months.
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