Paulo Dybala is a wonderful footballer. One that Juventus supporters have had the privilege of watching for the past seven years.
The Argentine, however, represents a dying breed. He’s a free-spirited individual; a player who continues to ply his trade with the creative expression that the systemised nature of modern-day football has sucked out of so many.
Dybala is yet to succumb to robotism or mechanisation. He’s remained a joyous free spirit throughout his time at Juventus, but his injury woes are starting to take their toll. Trips to the physio’s bench have become annoyingly frequent and, ultimately, it’s this issue that’ll see him depart Turin as a free agent come the end of the 2021/22 season.
It’s a bitterly disappointing end for a player that’ll undoubtedly go down as a 21st century Bianconeri hero, or whatever superlative you prefer. Sure, he might not be Alessandro Del Piero, but this is a player who represented the Old Lady 283 times, scored over 100 goals, added almost 50 assists and won five-straight scudetti. He was the Serie A’s MVP under Maurizio Sarri in 2019/20 and, in two seasons (2015/16 and 2017/18), he was the undisputed star in Juventus outfits capable of conquering the continent.
Juventus & Paulo Dybala are parting ways at the end of the season
There’s a beauty and effortlessness to La Joya’s game that very few possess, and he entered the 2021/22 season with a newfound ruthlessness and swagger. The Cristiano Ronaldo project thrust the Argentine out of the limelight, but Ronaldo’s departure last summer reinvigorated the 28-year-old. It was his Juventus again.
As a result, it was he who had all the leverage in contract negotiations with the club. With his deal expiring at the end of the season, Dybala wanted to assess the Massimiliano Allegri project before agreeing to terms with Juve, who desperately wanted to keep him.
Slowly but surely, however, the situation started to evolve. The once boisterous and pivotal Dybala didn’t appear so important when injuries plagued his albeit productive season and Juventus kept on winning. Without his creative talisman this season, Allegri has guided Juve to 11 victories from 13 games across three competitions.
Thus, the club retracted their lucrative contract offer – a reported €8m salary with €2m in bonuses – last October and continued to stall negotiations with Dybala’s agent, Jorge Antun. A meeting on Monday finally settled the debacle, but Dybala wasn’t interested in accepting the club’s altered proposal.
Why Juventus are right to move on from Dybala
This was an outcome that many supporters had grown to accept as the days and weeks passed without an update. The idea of losing Dybala for nothing once seemed detrimental, but perhaps it’s not as bad as you once feared.
Fabio Paratici’s willingness to gift any old Tom, Dick and Adrien a lucrative long-term contract hamstrung the Bianconeri regarding Dybala. The Argentine, recognising his value and impressive production this season, wanted to be Juve’s highest-earner, but, as we noted, the club’s fear over his long-term viability meant that he was never going to get an offer that sufficed his desires following more injury issues.
It would’ve been a huge financial gamble from the club to offer La Joya what he wanted at a crucial point in the club’s rebuild. Remember, Juve need to finance moves for players in several positions this summer. Thus, an incentive-laden offer with a lower base salary made a ton of sense and the hierarchy deserve credit for sticking to their guns in Monday’s talks.
However, finances are only part of why Juve are wise to move on from the low-sock donning creator. On the field, Dybala’s tactical viability had started to come into question.
He’s a tough player to fit into the starting XI due to his minimal defensive contribution and tendency to roam in possession. Allegri’s been able to work his way around it; by pressing sporadically and handing Dybala a free role when Juve have the ball. But, for any coach not wedded to principles that wouldn’t look out of place in 1992, La Joya would be a nightmare.
There’s a reason why the likes of Mesut Ozil and James Rodriguez have both fallen off the face of the earth. Dybala’s cut from the same cloth.
Seeing him leave for nothing is a blow, but Dybala’s departure is requisite for Juve’s rebuild to evolve. The club now have the chance to move in a different direction by replacing him with a younger, multi-faceted creator that contributes in all phases and could facilitate a much-needed modernisation of Juve’s play. They have the potential to build a balanced but destructive front three that’ll be feared across the continent.
However, replacing Dybala will be no easy feat. La Joya has given Juventus so much since he joined as a hot-shot 21-year-old from Palermo in 2015. His contribution to the Bianconeri’s domestic dynasty can’t be overlooked, and the ease at which he plays the sport will be universally missed among supporters.
Grazie, Paulo, ma è il momento.