Ventura: Buffon welcome in Italy coaching set-up

Italy coach Giampiero Ventura would be open to iconic goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon joining his backroom staff following the 2018 World Cup.

Buffon has suggested he will hang up his boots following the competition in Russia, bringing the curtain down on a glittering career already spanning over 20 years.

Ventura would be keen to retain the services of the Juve keeper - a seven-time Scudetto winner and part of Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning squad - beyond 2018, despite him having no experience in a non-playing role.

"As someone helping out the side and helping select players, why not?" the coach told Corriere della Serra.

"If he's never coached before he would be an unknown quantity.

"He is a reference point on and off the pitch; for his team-mates, for me, for the Federation.

"It would certainly be a mistake if Italy did not make the most of his presence."

Italy are joint-top of 2018 World Cup qualifying Group G with Spain, who they play for the second time in the qualification process in September.

Ventura is more concerned by their next fixture against Albania, however, but is confident the Azzurri will make it to Russia and spring a surprise.

"We will put in a great performance in Spain, I am convinced of it," he added. "I am more worried by the March encounter with Albania, as we are forced to win that and have only four days to prepare.

"I don't know if at that stage we'll be ready to use the 4-2-4 system. If we go to the World Cup, then I'm convinced we'll surprise many people during that tournament, I have no doubts. The problem, which is true for everyone, is getting there."

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