Buffon tops list as Europe’s longest serving single-club player

April 17 – Gianluigi Buffon was playing in Juventus’ first team when English ref Michael Oliver, at the centre of Buffon and Juventus complaints over the award of a penalty that ended their Champions League campaign, was just 16 years old. Wisdom of age berating the stupidity of youth?

Buffon heads a list of big-5 league players who have spent most time at their club. The legendary Italian goalkeeper has already played for 17 seasons at Juventus.

The data, compiled by the CIES Football Observatory, finds that Buffon’s longevity is “six months more than the second ranked footballer, Sergio Pellissier (Chievo), and one year more than for Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona) and Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund).”

There are 61 players who have played for at least ten seasons at their current clubs. “Among them are many other legendary players such as Lionel Messi (14 seasons in Barcelona’s first team squad), Giorgio Chiellini (13, Juventus), Sergio Ramos (13, Real Madrid), Michael Carrick (12, Manchester United), Marcelo (11.5, Real Madrid), Franck Ribéry (11, Bayern Munich), Marek Hamšík (11, Napoli), Fernando Torres (10, Atlético Madrid) and Cristiano Ronaldo (9, Real Madrid),” say the report authors.

At the other end of the scale in five clubs, the most loyal plyaer has been there for just four seasons: Fiorentina (Badelj), Crotone (Martella), Getafe (Guaita), Nice (Mendy, Pléa and Pouplin), as well as Caen (Vercoutre, Féret, da Silva and Bazile).

CIES has produced a full report on the relationships between squad stability and success in 31 top division leagues of UEFA member associations that can be viewed at http://www.football-observatory.com/IMG/sites/mr/mr34/en/.

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