The frustration was palpable among Juventus supporters as Paulo Dybala trudged off the Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo turf on Saturday evening. The contest was barely ten minutes old and La Joya had succumbed to yet another injury.
It was later revealed to be a thigh problem.
As a result, Venezia were able to claim a point against a turgid and lifeless Bianconeri. This was your default 2021/22 Juventus performance. We’ve seen Massimiliano Allegri work his magic without his creator-in-chief this term, most notably against Chelsea, but Juve have never been more than a mere functional unit reliant on vintage grinta in Dybala’s absence.
Paulo Dybala’s talent is undeniable and worthy of an extension alone
While Allegri’s side have often been unwatchable this term with the manager’s pragmatism proving overbearing, there have been occasions where Juve dazzled with Dybala leading the way. In the 4-2 victory over Zenit in the Champions League, the Argentine combined with fellow protagonist Federico Chiesa to deadly effect. Then, in Chiesa’s absence, Dybala stole the show in convincing domestic triumphs over Salernitana and Genoa. There have been times this term where Juve have teased their attacking potential with this current crop of players.
For Allegri, though, the reliance on individuals has evolved into a distinct problem. The manager wants the low sock donning Argentine to be the protagonist in his albeit stuttering second project in Turin. Dybala has tried his utmost, but a combination of niggling injuries and the manager’s inhibiting ideals have prevented the creator from taking flight. Nevertheless, the 28-year-old leads the way this season with 12 goal contributions in Serie A and the Champions League.
When he’s been available, La Joya has rarely disappointed.
His productive start is all the more impressive considering the uncertainty surrounding his contract situation. Dybala’s current deal at the club expires next summer, although there’s a sense of inevitability regarding an extension. All parties want it to happen, and there’s hope the deal can be wrapped up before Christmas. However, time is running out for that target to be met.
Juventus are taking a risk by extending Dybala until 2026
For many, Dybala’s long-term contract extension is unequivocally good news. How could it not be?! Locking down your best, most creative footballer for another five years? That might be the best news to come out of Turin all year!
Well, some might argue the contrary, and there’s certainly an avenue for debate.
As Kaio Jorge replaced the injured Dybala in Venice, rants circulated across Juventus Twitter regarding La Joya and his potential new deal. Now, a lot of this chat must be taken with a pinch of salt. You could sense the overriding emotion within each tweet, and I’m sure many would retract their initial comments after an eight-hour kip or following Juventus’ update regarding Dybala’s status on Monday afternoon.
The player hasn’t picked up any muscular injury and will be monitored on a day-to-day basis. Thus, he could be in contention for Juventus’ final two Serie A games of the year against Bologna and Cagliari.
Despite the insignificance of his recent injury, are the Bianconeri taking a big risk by re-signing Dybala to a lucrative contract that will keep him in Piedmont until 2026? In this climate amid the club’s financial position, you have to say yes.
As we’ve noted, the player’s talent is undeniable. He’s a wonderfully unique footballer who often plays the game at his own tempo. We know how good he is, but his injury woes are a serious concern.
Andrea Pirlo was stifled by the Argentine’s lack of availability at the start of 2021. A knee injury kept him out of 18 games between January and April. Fortunately, an emerging Chiesa embarked on his assault towards superstardom to mitigate against the Argentine’s absence and thrust Juventus into the top-four.
Dybala’s injury woes have perpetuated into 2021/22
This term, we’ve seen Dybala miss games following three separate lower leg injuries. It was the left thigh against Sampdoria, the knee while away on international duty in November and now it’s the right thigh. The issues have thus far been minor, but they’ve prevented Dybala and Juventus from building any momentum in the first half of 2021/22.
So, when it comes to his new contract, Juventus have little choice but to offer what Dybala and his entourage desire. They can’t let him walk next summer, that’d be a financial and footballing disaster. However, the club has no leverage whatsoever when it comes to renegotiating his salary or the length of the extension.
While they can’t and won’t reconsider Dybala’s new deal, Juventus must be well aware of the risk they’re taking with the increasingly brittle but majestic Argentine.