"Despite the age gap (21 years), Gigio is like a little brother to me. He's a special lad, very calm: I was completely different at his age," Buffon told Corriere della Sera when asked about the youngster.
"He's thoughtful, intelligent and has extraordinary quality. He has everything to make history in the role. We'll just have to wait 20 years and then make conclusions."
Donnarumma won't celebrate his 18th birthday until late February but has already been Milan number one since October of last year when he became the youngest starting goalkeeper in the history of Italian football.
He has physical and mental attribute way beyond his years and even made his senior international debut this year after jumping from Italy's Under-17 team to the Under-21 side and then the full squad within the space of 12 months.
With Buffon expected to retire in 2018 after that summer's World Cup in Russia, the time will come for Donnarumma to step up for good.
But even after hanging up his gloves, Buffon may continue working with Donnarumma as he says the only coaching role he would consider for life after playing would be with the Italian national team rather than a more intense day-to-day club job.
"The pitch is the most beautiful part of the game, it gives you emotions which bring meaning to life. So I wouldn't like a role as a (club) coach, with the day-to-day nature of it," he said.
"I wouldn't rule out a role as national team coach. You would still have the emotions from the pitch but with time and the freedom to devote to other things."
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