Why Paulo Dybala must leave Juventus this season
Background photo: Roberto Gearfil Lombardi, CC-BY-SA 3.0
Like every Argentine forward not named Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala's struggle to feature regularly for La Albiceleste astounds. Recently, though, finding minutes with his country became less a priority than finding them with his club. The star has lost his place at Juventus. He still makes the matchday squad but is no longer a guaranteed starter.
Juventus Vice Chairman Pavel Nedved once referred to Dybala as the club's future. His comments weren’t far-fetched, Dybala demonstrated quality far beyond his age. Scoring and creating goals came naturally to the former Palermo hotshot. Not many attacking midfielders or forwards in Europe boast more than a hundred goals. Juve has a gem in La Joya.
There is no question Dybala is an incredibly gifted player. Which position best suits his talent is debatable. We’ve seen him work magic as a secondary striker. He’s shown up as an attacking mid too. He adapted well to the latter position when Juve signed Gonzalo Higuain in 2016.
He seldom features as a centre forward, however. The Champions League game against Manchester United and tilts with Napoli and Lazio come to mind, but examples are few and far between.
Allegri prefers to deploy Dybala in more advanced positions; sometimes on the flank as a right-winger when the formation is 4-3-3.
More often, Allegri favours the 3-5-2. In that system, Federico Bernardeschi, Miralem Pjanic and Emre Can or Blaise Matuidi find places. Not Dybala. The Argentine is left to battle for a place with Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic for the two available spots in attack. Good luck with that. Too often, Dybala loses out to the far more experienced pair and finds himself sulking on the bench.
Dybala’s constraint has been evident in his stats. He's suffering his lowest scoring season since joining the Bianconeri. He still plays two key passes per game in Serie A, but his goal return of four in 24 outings is reminiscent of a superstar who isn’t enjoying his football. The least he’s scored in any previous season for Juve is 19.
In all competitions this term, Dybala tallies nine goals with four assists. We're discussing a player who scored 68 goals for the Zebras coming into this campaign. More was expected.
While Dybala languishes, the Old Lady shops for midfielders in the Premier League. Emre Can arrived from Liverpool this past summer. Aaron Ramsey joins the squad in June. With few options as a forward, the midfield door is now closing in the 25-year-old's face.
Up front, Mandzukic and Ronaldo defy time. Knowing how shrewd Juve is in the transfer market, one wouldn’t put it past them to shop for a striker as insurance in case time decides enough is enough. Mauro Icardi just might be available. Undercutting the competition is a time-honoured tradition in Turin.
There’s also Moise Kean. The teenager’s influence in Turin grows rapidly. Allegri can’t help but play him these days.
Caught between veteran experience and exuberant youth; remaining at the Allianz Stadium guarantees only misery. He must leave.
Real Madrid would pay heavily to take him. Manchester United or Chelsea might be interested. Mo Salah's dip in scoring after threatening 50 goals in 2017/18 could lure Liverpool into the fray. If he makes himself available, Dybala will be a crown jewel in the summer transfer window. He won't be starved for options. The question is, does he care to leave?