When Andrea Pirlo took over this offseason, many expected the Italian tactician’s arrival would breathe new life into Paulo Dybala. The Argentine international was in dire need of a shakeup after an indifferent season under Maurizio Sarri. Dybala was always an awkward fit in his rigid system and struggled to make an impact, whether he was deployed as a false nine or from the right-wing.
Dybala has not fared much better this season, despite yet another managerial change. As contract talks continue to stall, and La Joya’s woes drag on, it begs the question: What should Juventus do with Dybala?
La Joya has featured sparingly this year and has been regularly sidelined with recurring injuries. When he has played, Dybala has disappointed netting just three goals in 16 appearances. The former Palermo man has since been usurped in the lineup by summer arrival Alvaro Morata, as he represents a better fit in attack alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. Dybala’s fitness, or lack thereof, is another concern.
Dybala has seen his season ravaged by injuries, robbing him of the consistency he needs to make an impact. The 27-year-old has missed Juve’s last 14 games in all competitions, highlighting his inability to stay fit. According to reports, Dybala has asked for a significant pay raise that would see him earn in the top 15 footballers worldwide. When considering his past few seasons and his consistent injury problems, Juve would be foolish to agree.
Juventus’ top brass has rightfully been reluctant to meet Dybala’s demands, with both parties entrenched in a stalemate going into what could be a defining summer. Let’s be clear – Dybala’s talent is not in question. When in form, few players offer Juventus the same creativity La Joya could. His assist against Milan typified his brilliance, teeing up Federico Chiesa with an inch-perfect backheel assist.
The issue is, however, is that those moments are too few and far between. If Dybala is unwilling to lower his demands and put pen to paper on a modest contract, Juve would be wise to start considering alternatives. Recently, it’s been reported that the Italian champions will invest heavily this summer to bolster their midfield. Names like Paul Pogba, Houssem Aouar, Rodrigo De Paul, and Manuel Locatelli have been thrown around, but the reality is, without a major departure, any of their signings remains unlikely.
Juventus’s stuttering midfield has long been the side’s Achilles heel, culminating in early Champions League exits. As their grip on Italian football loosens, the Bianconeri can no longer afford to ignore its midfield. When will Paratici and co. accept that Rodrigo Bentancur and Adrien Rabiot are simply not the answers?
You might be asking, why mention Juve’s midfield in an article about Dybala? Well, if Juve is unable to agree to terms with La Joya, they would be smart to use the funds they’re saving on two midfield stars. Whether it’s Pogba and Aouar or Locatelli and De Paul, any combination of these four works.
In an ideal situation, Juve would be able to keep Dybala and add these reinforcements. But in a post-pandemic world where funds are tight, you have to play the hand you’re dealt. After witnessing two seasons of this version of Juve, I think it’s pretty clear it’s not working. Let’s not mince words – This is the worst Juve in 10 years. Beyond Ronaldo, De Ligt, and a few others – make no mistake about it – there are no untouchable players in Turin.
As yet another disappointing Round of 16 exit looms large, Juve must reconsider its roster, get creative, and take to the transfer window diligently once more. The deal for Weston McKennie is a perfect example to follow. The club’s books might be in the red, but there is no reason why Juve can’t improve its roster with crafty solutions.
In the past, Juventus’ sporting directors, whether it was Giuseppe Marotta or Paratici, have often said it’s nearly impossible to improve the team. Nowadays, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Juventus has some big decisions to make this summer – starting with the Paulo Dybala dossier.
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