However, the 40-year-old has softened his stance since then and, having held a meeting with interim Italy coach Luigi Di Biagio in February, could now add to his national record of 175 caps.
As well as picking Buffon, Di Biagio – who has stepped up from his role as Under-21 boss on a temporary basis – has also named uncapped forwards Federico Chiesa and Patrick Cutrone in a 26-man squad.
There is a recall for Milan midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura, who won the last of his eight caps in December 2016, but Mario Balotelli and Simone Zaza both miss out.
Italy face Argentina at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on March 23 before taking on England at Wembley four days later.
#Azzurri— Italy (@azzurri) March 17, 2018
Luigi #DiBiagio has named his squad for the friendlies against #Argentina in #Manchester, 23/03 ko 20:45 CET; and #England in #London, 27/03 ko 21:00 CET#ArgentinaItaly #EnglandItaly #VivoAzzurro pic.twitter.com/IKUzE5lxzE
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea), Leonardo Spinazzola (Atalanta), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Leonardo Bonucci (Milan), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Gian Marco Ferrari (Sampdoria), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Jorginho (Napoli), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain), Bryan Cristante (Atalanta), Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), Roberto Gagliardini (Inter), Marco Parolo (Lazio) Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Simone Verdi (Bologna), Antonio Candreva (Inter), Andrea Belotti (Torino), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Patrick Cutrone (Milan).