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By ESPN Staff

Italy keeper Buffon to stay at Juve, says agent

ROME, July 18 (Reuters) - Italy's World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has decided to stay at Juventus despite the club being ordered to start next season in Italy's second division, the player's agent said on Wednesday.

'Gigi is going to stay at Juventus. This is the decision he has taken. He's prepared to play in Serie B,' Silvano Martina told Italian radio news agency GRT.

'Juventus don't intend to sell him and he has told them he is prepared to stay.'

Buffon, who is considered one of the best keepers in the world, was widely expected by Italian media to make a speedy departure from Juve following the club's spectacular fall from grace in the Serie A match-fixing trial.

Juventus have been at the centre of the scandal since it broke in early May with the publication of intercepted telephone conversations between their former general manager Luciano Moggi and senior Italian Football Federation (FIGC) officials discussing refereeing appointments.

Last Friday a sports tribunal stripped the club of the Serie A titles they won in the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons and ordered them to start next season in Serie B on minus 30 points after finding them guilty of conspiring with match officials to rig games during the 2004/05 season.

Buffon's decision to stay will be a huge lift for Juve, who still risk losing many of their top players including Italy's World Cup captain and central defender Fabio Cannavaro, French striker David Trezeguet and Brazilian midfielder Emerson.

Buffon, 28, made his Serie A debut for Parma in a 0-0 draw with AC Milan in November 1995.

He moved to Juventus at the start of the 2001-02 season. Since arriving in Turin he has won four Serie A titles and finished runners-up to Milan in the 2003 Champions League.