Joe Hart ‘one of world’s best three keepers’ says Gianluigi Buffon

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has poured extravagant praise on Manchester City’s Joe Hart ahead of the two sides’ meeting in the Champions League.

“I’ve been watching his game for a few years now, and Joe Hart is now for me one of the top three goalkeepers in the world,” said the legendary Buffon, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006 and a man with 150 appearances between the sticks for his country.

“He had the period where he made some mistakes and was dropped, but he needed that. I’ve always said you need to be a bit of a masochist to be a top goalkeeper and that period would have made Joe that.

“Since his return to the team after being dropped, you won’t think of a better goalkeeper in the world. It’s not just about the saves he makes, but the way he organises with such confidence. He is a real leader.”

Buffon added he and his team-mates are excited to be facing a City side who he believes could win the tournament.

“There’s great enthusiasm for the match tomorrow,” Buffon told journalists in the pre-match press conference. “It’s my first time playing in this stadium. Manchester City can win the Champions League, and it’ll be nice to start our European campaign with such a big test.

“It’s the best way to help us recognise ourselves again, to know our value and have the sole purpose of knowing where we want to go.”

Sergio Aguero will be missing for the hosts, but the Juve captain is not celebrating the face he won’t have to face him.

“They have seven or eight attacking players who could all play in the top five teams in Europe.

“It’s not possible to play more than three strikers at once, and it’s a shame not to see some players on the pitch.”