Paulo Dybala doesn’t need much introduction after he arrived on the footballing scene by overshadowing his compatriot Lionel Messi in April 2017, with an emphatic display in the 3-0 win against Barcelona at the Allianz Stadium. Dybala stamped his mark on the game, with two brilliant first-half goals, both a result of his ingenious left-foot which announced the 24-year-old prodigy to the world.
A product of the Instituto AC Córdoba youth academy, Dybala showed his talents almost immediately by breaking Argentine legend Maria Kempes’ record as the youngest ever scorer for Cordoba at 17 years of age. This caught the attention of several European clubs, Palermo being one. The Italian side was forced to pay over the odds for Dybala, but eventually, put pen to paper for a fee of around €11.9m in the summer of 2012. From there, Dybala kickstarted his career. Featuring 93 times for the Rosaneros, scoring 21 goals and assisting a further 16 to quickly became the catalyst for the team’s success, ensuring that the pink and blacks remained a top-flight Italian side for another season. However, after turning down a three-year contract extension, Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini was more than happy to offload his top goalscorer, but only for the right price.
Before signing for Juventus, Dybala’s agent had to deter interest again, from several top-flight European clubs, such as Chelsea and Arsenal, as it was the Argentines wish that he remained in Italy. After a short, 15-day process, Dybala completed his move to the Bianconeri for a fee of around €40m in 2015. Paulo Dybala was widely considered as the “next Messi”, but was also referred to as the “next Agüero” by Zamparini, good company for someone who was only 21 years of age. In his 2015/16 debut season for Juventus, Dybala featured in 46 games in all competitions, scoring 23 and assisting 9, a very good start to prepare for life at the Italian giants.
Dybala didn’t slow down either and in the 2016/17 season, featured in 48 games in all competitions, scoring 19 and assisting 9, but this time was tried in a deeper central attacking midfield role, as well as playing a single game out on the right-hand side (in which he scored twice and assisted another). Fast forward to the current season and although hit with a hamstring injury that sidelined him for 6 games, Paulo Dybala has already found the net 17 times and assisted 5 in the 30 games he has appeared in (all competitions) and is undoubtedly going to make this his best season in the famous black and white shirt, to date.
When watching Paulo Dybala and analysing his technique, it is clear that he is best suited to play behind a more direct striker, with the prime example being Gonzalo Higuaín, both Argentines have scored 14 goals for Juventus and the pairing make up 46% of Juventus’ total goals in the Serie A. What is notable about Dybala however, is his versatility. As mentioned previously, Dybala has played as a striker in a 442 formation, scoring 2 in an almost perfect 4-0 win over Torino, but, Dybala has also been utilised out on the right wing in a 433 set up, in which he put in another assured performance, scoring 2 goals and receiving man of the match for his display against Verona.
It’s not his positioning which best describes his talent, but his contribution to the Juventus side. An apparent strength of Dybala’s is his finishing ability, the Argentine has taken 78 shots in the Serie A so far, scoring 14, which is a conversion rate of 17.9%. This figure is even more respectable when compared with Lionel Messi, who has a shot conversion rate of 15.6% for Barcelona in La Liga this season. Interestingly, of those 78 shots, 34 have come from inside the penalty area, with 9 resulting in goals, a conversion rate of 26.4%, indicating just how deadly Dybala is inside the oppositions box. As well as this, Dybala is one of many key passers in the current Juventus side (alongside Pjanic and co.), creating 2 key passes every 90 minutes for his teammates, those key passes could be the difference between the Bianconeri winning or losing.
If Dybala can get back to full fitness and continue to dominate Italian football, can he be the difference to Argentina at the World Cup in Russia later this year?
All stats are sourced from:
featured image credit express.co.uk