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Simone Scuffet: New Gianluigi Buffon Now Udinese Benchwarmer

Published by Bleacher Report on Fri, 20 Mar 2015

Udinesegoalkeeper Simone Scuffet, 18, has gone from being compared to living legend Gianluigi Buffon to warming the benches.Scuffet's inconspicuous inactivity is the first impediment he needs to overcome if he wants to emulate Buffon.Instant FameScuffet was inspired to play the game by his father, a football tragic."When I first started getting into football, my dad was a goalkeeper, so I followed suit,"Scuffet said, perFIFA. "He only played in the amateur leagues, never professionally."Making a modest wager,Scuffet promised he would surpass his father,Fabrizio."When I was a kid I made a bet with my father that I would be a better goalkeeper that him and go further in the game,"Scuffet said, perFIFA. "I think I've done that."When then-Udinese managerFrancesco Guidolin called upScuffet as an emergency starter against Bologna last February, he was not a complete unknown.During the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup,Scuffet earned critical acclaim from FIFA's technical study group: "Italian keeper Scuffet pulled off an outstanding save. ... [He]displayed a high level of maturity and great anticipation...[and was] composed and reliable."Scuffet was one of five goalkeeping prospects at the tournament highlighted as a key player by the technical study group (listed in alphabetical order):Anton Mitryushkin (Russia).Dele Alampasu (Nigeria); Golden Glove recipient.Raul Gudino (Mexico).Simone Scuffet (Italy).Thiago Cardozo (Uruguay).WithZeljko Brkic in despair,Scuffet needed to call on his U-17 World Cup experience, as he was hurled into the big leagues at the last minute."I never expected to play [against Bologna], but in the warm-up Brkic had a problem,"Scuffet said, per Sky (h/t Football Italia). "[Guidolin]decided to send me out.It was an incredible feeling."UnlikeWojciech Pawlowski, who was never given an extended run, you can imagineGuidolin closing his eyes, sighing and pencilling inScuffet's name as Udinese'sstarter for the rest of the season.Scuffet vindicatedGuidolin's gamble with extraordinary saves.Stepping to the right,Scuffet pulled off a stupefying save in the opposite direction to parry a swiftly hit shot after an acrobaticattempt fromMaximiliano Moralezin a 1-1 draw againstAtalanta.It was a moment of remarkableathleticism from Scuffet, as he compensatedfor being out of position.Denying Jaroslav Plasil and Gonzalo Bergessio inquick succession,Scuffetnotched seven saves in a 1-0 win overCatania.In the footballing world, there is an obsession withwunderkinds, soScuffet's progress was beingeagerly documented on Twitter.Serie A 2013-14Ivan KelavaSimone ScuffetZeljko BrkicGames Played101612Saves224134Saves Per Game2.202.562.83Saves Per Goals Conceded1.691.861.55Clean Sheets261Clean Sheets %2037.508.33It must have been a bitter pill to swallow forBrkic, a backup who wanted to be the No. 1, andIvan Kelava, who was initiallyUdinese'sstarter, as they watchedScuffet, a schoolboy, turn into a star.Statistically,Scuffet accumulated more saves and clean sheets while having a more efficient saves-per-goal-conceded record and clean-sheet percentage thanBrkic andKelava.FIFA World Cup winnerDino Zoff believedScuffet possessed world-class potential."[Scuffet's]calmness and coolness are striking. If you show these characteristics on the field [at 17 years of age], you are destined to become a great player,"Zoff said,perIl Mattino (h/tMark Doyle at Goal)."Credit to Guidolin for putting [Scuffet]out there."Talk about a resounding endorsement.However,Zoff, who was 32 years old when he played his first FIFA World Cup game in 1974, did not approve ofScuffet being prematurely elevated into the Italy national team.Zoff was againstScuffet going to the 2014 FIFA World Cup because he had "zero experience."Buffon, a FIFA World Cup winner like Zoff, disagreed."Should Scuffet go to Brazil',"Buffon said, per FourFourTwo. "Considering what he is doing [at the moment for Udinese]I'd say he deserves it."Then-Italy national team managerCesare Prandelli sided withZoff, electing to takeBuffon,Salvatore SiriguandMattia Perinto the FIFA World Cup.It reminds you how much hype surroundedScuffet for a period of time last year.Udinese rewardedScuffet's breakout half-season with a contract extension until 2019.ComatoseDuring the 2014 summer transfer window,Scuffet considered playing in Spain after being approached by La Liga championsAtletico Madrid.Udinese were in line to receive a5/3.62 million transfer fee, potentially rising to10/7.24 million, andScuffet would be loaned to "another Spanish club," perGianluca Di Marzio.That Spanish clubwas probablyGranada, which is controlled by the same ownersasUdinese.Scuffet's agent,Claudio Vagheggi, pulled the plug on the proposed deal."Atletico Madrid's offer was interesting and advantageous," Vagheggi said, per Tuttomercatoweb (h/t Sky Sports). "But we agreed with [Udinese] and with [Scuffet's] family that the best thing for him is to have a progressive and gradual growth."Five months later,Scuffet was mulling over a January transfer window loan toCrotone in Serie B, per Tuttomercatoweb (h/t Bleacher Report'sAdam Digby).Wait. The sameScuffetwho was in contention to make Italy'sFIFA World Cup squad' Yes.What happened' Nothing.Literally. Nothing.Remember,Kelava'He was collateral damage duringScuffet's rise, thus was loaned out to Serie B clubCarpi.This meantOrestis Karnezis moved fromGranada toUdinese to fillKelava's vacancy.Since succeedingGuidolinasUdinese manager,Andrea Stramaccioni has opted for experience, going forKarnezis overScuffet.Suffering an ankle sprain in September hinderedScuffet from challengingKarnezis, who then established himself asStramaccioni'sundisputedNo. 1.Serie AOrestis Karnezis 2014-15Simone Scuffet 2013-14Games Played2616Saves8441Saves Per Game3.232.56Saves Per Goals Conceded2.471.86Clean Sheets66Clean Sheets %23.0837.50Statistically, Karnezis is an upgrade overScuffet, whose only advantage is clean-sheet percentage.You surmiseScuffet is clapping with a chagrin nod every timeKarnezis pulls off another top save, knowing Stramaccioni is rightfor now."We studied a programme of gradual growth [for prospects] and [Scuffet understands],"Stramaccioni said, perLa Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Football Italia). "EvenBuffon,after his great debut for Parma,went back to being behind Luca Bucci the next season."What Now'Let's be realistic.Even if he is notBuffon 2.0, you can envisionScuffet having aMorgan De Sanctis-like career.It has been underwhelming for Scuffet, who was expected to kick on after the high standards he set last season, so who should heturn to for advice'Himself, circa 2014.Yes, it is a different context now from then, but the message is stillapplicable."Serenity,tranquillityand courage...I have to remain calm. I haven't achieved anything yet,"Scuffet said, perLa Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t James Horncastle at Eurosport). "The road is long."+allanjiang.When not specified, statistics via WhoScored.com.Read more World Football news on BleacherReport.com
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