Juventus forward Paulo Dybala has missed most of the season with injury, and he’s still looking to regain his form.
Last season, Paulo Dybala was Serie A’s MVP. The Juventus forward caused so many headaches for defenses as either a striker or a right-sided supporting striker, staying close to the middle of the field and shooting onto his stronger left foot. His mazy dribbling provided moments of magic when the Bianconeri needed goals, and both his and Cristiano Ronaldo’s individual quality ensured Juve would win the Scudetto despite Maurizio Sarri’s managerial mistakes and a questionable midfield.
Unfortunately, Dybala hasn’t been nearly as potent for the Bianconeri to start the 2020-2021 season. He started the season behind the curve, as he was recovering from an injury. Dybala made his season debut off the bench against Dynamo Kyiv, but his first true test came as a starter against Verona that weekend.
La Joya was one of the few players who tried to make something happen against Verona. He had three key passes, three fouls drawn, and three dribbles completed, according to WhoScored.com. Dybala, however, also had nine shots with zero goals, frustrating fans in the eventual 1-1 draw.
That was Dybala’s best Serie A performance thus far. He was woeful against Spezia before being subbed off for Cristiano Ronaldo, who changed the game in his return from COVID-19 by scoring a brace in the 4-1 win. And then in the next game against Lazio, Juve drew 1-1 thanks to Dybala’s mistake late in the match, which gifted Felipe Caicedo an equalizer. Dybala had entered the match for goal-scorer Ronaldo, who had a possible injury.
So it’s been a disappointing start for Dybala. Juventini have such high expectations for the player, and he has high expectations for himself. To make matters more complicated, Dybala is still in contract negotiations with the Old Lady, as he is asking for a significant raise. His play last season would absolutely merit a big contract, but his performances in 2020-2021 make it more likely that Juve, who must carefully balance their books with Ronaldo’s wages, may move on. And which teams around Europe would give in to Dybala’s demands?
And to make matters doubly complicated, Alvaro Morata cannot stop scoring for club and country. The returning Juventus striker has four Champions League goals, two Serie A goals, and even two assists in the league. Dybala has one goal against Ferencvaros, which was gifted to him by an embarrassing error from the goalkeeper.
Even so, Juventini should back Dybala to return to his best for soon enough, perhaps even in the games after the November international break against Cagliari, Ferencvaros, and Benevento.
A sample size of six below-average performances post-injury should not overcome all the work Dybala has done in Turin for years. In four of his five seasons with Juventus, Dybala has exceeded 15 goal contributions, including 11 goals and six assists last season as the supporting star for Ronaldo. The last time Dybala was the superstar player for Juve, he had 22 goals.
Dybala is a world-class player. He has a lot of doubters outside of Italy, but Juventini who have seen the Argentine forward shine for years should not count themselves among the harshest critics. There are reasonable criticisms to be made about Dybala’s game, such as his consistency and chance-creation, but he absolutely makes more of a positive difference on the Bianconeri with his strengths.
He will be back to his best in a matter of matches. It’s all about getting fit and getting familiar with a new-look team and a new-look mentality under Andrea Pirlo. Dybala needs the grace of an adjustment player, especially since he is a player who relies on playing with the squad and feeling out when he can go for the opportunities to show his individual quality. Soon enough, those chances will present themselves, and Dybala will take them.