Paulo Dybala has been an instrumental part of the Bianconeri for two seasons and could be ready to take the next step in global football.
In June 2015, just a day before their eventual Champions League final loss to Lionel Messi and Barcelona, another Argentinian was making headlines in Torino. Juventus had just signed forward Paulo Dybala from Palermo for €40 million. The young Argentine nicknamed ‘La Joya’ (the jewel) had just come off an excellent season for Palermo – 13 goals and 10 assists.
Dybala made his debut for Juventus in the Italian Supercoppa in Shanghai, scoring the second goal off the bench in their 2-0 win. This was the first of his trophies with the Bianconeri. Dybala continued his hot streak at the beginning of the season, earning praise from fans and the media for filling the void left by Carlos Tevez, the cog of Juve’s offensive machine. In his first 16 appearances of the season, the diminutive star managed six goals and two assists in all competitions; a ratio of a goal every 151 minutes, which was superior to Tevez’s and Alessandro Del Piero’s goal scoring ratios in their debut seasons with the ‘Old Lady.’ La Joya was one of the main reasons for Juve’s domestic double: Scudetto and Coppa Italia finishing with 23 goals in all competitions. With the departure of Paul Pogba in the 2016 offseason, Juventus needed a new player to take over as face of the club. Dybala naturally became the successor.
Turning down the opportunity to wear the famed #10 jersey, it was a testament to his humility. Despite the arrival of Gonzalo Higuain, Dybala is the spark plug of Juve’s offense and currently, their biggest star. The Bianconeri even rejected an €80 million bid from Barcelona, who obviously saw the potential of Pablito. Despite his slow start to the 2016-17 season and a one-month injury, Dybala currently has 14 goals in 31 total appearances so far. Look for Dybala to play a major role in the stretch drive for the treble. With a healthy lead in the league, and Coppa Italia semi-final tie nearly wrapped, up only the Champions League eludes the Italian giants. Dybala will be counted on especially against his childhood hero Messi and Spanish juggernaut Barcelona.
Since Max Allegri reverted to his “5 star system” allowing all of Juve’s big guns to play on the pitch at once, Dybala has flourished. By playing central in a front three he has the ability to freely create plays for his teammates or score a goal himself. A quick, creative, and agile player, with excellent technical ability, Dybala is known for his dribbling skills and close control in limited spaces, earning a comparison to Messi. He also has the ability to protect and hold up the play for team-mates with his back to goal. This provides his wingers and fullbacks to jump ahead in the play and cross the ball to one of two towers Mandzukic or Higuain preying in the 6 yard box. Dybala’s work-rate also involves his excellent ability to track back and defend. He is a player that does it all: the ability to pressure the opponent’s midfield, set up a pass or scores a goal from nothing. His free kick accuracy has vastly improved this season making him deadly from set pieces. These are all the ingredients of a world class superstar.
Off the pitch, Dybala is very active on social media. He has over 1 million “likes” on Facebook and 5+ million followers on Instagram, using videos and photos to connect with fans worldwide. His “Dybala Mask” celebration has gone viral and turned into a meme. His marketability off the pitch is exactly what a big club like Juventus need in the wake of losing Paul Pogba. At only 23 years of age, he has time on his side to improve further. A new contract is in the works, with a hefty bonus and gigantic release clause, keeping Dybala in Turin long-term.
The sky is the limit for this young man as casual fans grow more accustomed to his name. Juve’s crown jewel will need to shine brightest in Europe. If he can deliver a a treble at the end of this season Paulo Dybala will surely be a candidate for the Ballon d’Or, something Pogba was unable to achieve at Juve. Most importantly, he would become a living legend, joining a long list in Bianconeri.