'Serie A was financially doped, but can be the best again' - Buffon

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Gigi Buffon Juventus
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The Italy goalkeeper believes that his country can rise to the summit of European football once more, despite struggling in recent years

Gianluigi Buffon believes that Serie A can become the best league in Europe once again after suffering the after effect of what he terms 'financial doping'.

While Serie A enjoyed a fruitful number of decades in Europe from the late 1980s to the mid-2000s, no Italian club has managed to win the Champions League since the success of Jose Mourinho's Inter in 2010.

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Italian clubs have been represented in 14 of the last 30 European Cup finals, but the recent trend of non-representation, with clubs such as Milan and Inter struggling on the highest stage, suggests a decline in standards.

Nevertheless, Buffon, who will lead Juve into a Champions League quarter-final clash with Barcelona in April, remains optimistic and predicts a bright future for his country.

Inter Champions League 2010

"Italian football was financially doped," Buffon told Kicker when asked about the decline.

"By that I mean that we lived above our capabilities and we blew money which we originally could not afford. But in Italy the passion for football will never die. I believe in cycles.

"We are back on our way up and maybe in four or five years the Serie A will be the best league in Europe again."

Among recent developments in Italy is the rise in the number of football clubs being bought by foreign owners, with Roma and Milan being acquired by American and Chinese owners respectively.

Buffon takes a dim view of this, suggesting that it is a "defeat" and representative of the poor economic position that Italy finds itself in.

"[It is a] defeat for Italian football and our tradition," said the 39-year-old. 

"It mirrors the bad economic situation in our country and it is the proof that solvent businessmen – which we have – do not want to invest in the rise of Italian football."