The Juventus hierarchy have pulled off one of the finest transfer bluffs you’re ever likely to see. Even David Blaine would admire such misdirection and illusion.
Towards the end of 2021, club CEO Maurizio Arrivabene set the tone early ahead of the January transfer window. “It will not be a particularly interesting and demanding January market,” he said as manager Massimiliano Allegri persistently echoed this sentiment. “I believe that there’s a 99% probability that the squad will stay as it is,” Allegri noted, adding that January arrivals often make “little impact”.
Oh, you crafty son of a gun. You had has fooled!
On Monday night, with the club seemingly sleepwalking through January struggling to find a suitable buyer for Aaron Ramsey, the big bad beast of Piedmont struck a blow so decisive that its reverberations extended beyond the Italian border, the Alps, English Channel and through north London.
Dusan Vlahović, regarded as a pipe dream signing by many even for a club of Juve’s stature, was now within their tyrannical grasp. With Fiorentina desperate to sell and the player about as keen on a move to north London as Angel Di Maria was in 2013, La Viola had little choice but to accept Juve’s mammoth €75m proposal that arrived on Tuesday.
What about that cry for ‘financial stability’, eh, Mr Arrivabene? You master deceiver.
Following Tuesday’s agreement, Vlahović’s arrival is now imminent. The 21-year-old is expected to sign a five-year contract worth €7m-a-year with his medical scheduled for Saturday.
It’s a monster signing for Juventus. Signing their #9 for the next decade was arguably the most crucial aspect of the club’s rebuild and alongside Federico Chiesa, Manuel Locatelli and Matthijs de Ligt, Vlahović could complete an imperious core in Turin.
But what does the striker’s arrival mean for another one of Juventus’ current superstars: Paulo Dybala?
Paulo Dybala’s contract situation remains unsettled
For so long, Dybala was the golden boy of Turin; La Joya. He was the crown jewel, the attacking spark in previous Juventus juggernauts and a one-time Serie A MVP under Maurizio Sarri. However, a difficult 2020/21 season, compounded by a long-term knee injury and Chiesa’s remarkable rise, saw the Argentine temporarily disappear into the abyss.
Injuries have taken their toll on the masterful playmaker to the point where he’s now as fragile as the human ego. Nevertheless, while he’s been affected physically, Dybala remains a genius technician capable of sequences with the ball that very few can re-create. He continues to thrive in a dynamic, progressive system, and although we’ve rarely seen such modern thinking from Allegri this term, the Argentine’s numbers are still impressive. He has 15 goal contributions (11G, 4A) in 23 appearances.
Despite his productive campaign thus far, Juventus have been spooked by Dybala’s perpetual injury struggles over the past 12 or so months in regards to his contract extension. The 28-year-old’s current deal at the club expires in the summer and last Autumn, it appeared that Juve had struck an agreement with the player’s entourage over a new deal. Dybala was expected to earn an €8m salary until 2026.
But Juventus now want to re-evaluate, much to Dybala’s dismay. Talks are expected to continue in February when the club’s intentions are hopefully laid bare.
Will Dusan Vlahovic’s arrival impact Paulo Dybala’s future?
Since the news broke of Vlahović’s impending arrival on Tuesday, we’ve seen contrasting reports regarding the future of Dybala. While some speculate that the Serb’s signing could spell the end of La Joya in Turin, the reliable Romeo Agresti (via @BianconeriZone) believes that Juventus want Dybala and Vlahović to forge a formidable relationship.
There’s no doubting that this partnership will be key in Juve’s pursuit of a top-four spot in the second half of the Serie A season.
Sky Italia (via Get Football News Italy), meanwhile, are one of the Dybala sceptics. They believe Vlahović’s signing is the reason why the Argentine’s contract talks have been delayed and unless Juve can generate funds via player sales, it’s unlikely that the Argentine will renew with the club because the vast majority of their resources have been put into the Vlahović deal.
In short, nobody’s quite sure of Juventus’ intentions but there’s no doubting that the club have the chance to create something quite magical in the future. Come the Autumn, the Bianconeri could boast a front three of Chiesa, Vlahović and Dybala. Now, that would be quite something.
But, as the days pass, the more and more likely it appears that La Joya will not extend with Juventus. Potential suitors, including Inter Milan, are beginning to circle and fears are brewing of a Beppe Moratta masterstroke.
For now, even with the arrival of Vlahović, Dybala’s situation is one entrenched with ambiguity.