Hot-shot Paulo Dybala is fast becoming the most reliable striker at the disposal of Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri despite his tender years.
Juventus beat a myriad of rivals to the signature of Argentine forward Paulo Dybala from Palermo for £23.4 million during the summer to much fanfare.
Pressure was heaped upon 21-year-old’s shoulders following his arrival, with comparisons made between Dybala and countryman Carlos Tevez, who had just made the decision to leave the Serie A champions for a return to his beloved Boca Juniors.
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Due to such a large transfer fee and similarly high expectations, it looked to be a difficult task for the once-capped international to replace his highly-rated predecessor, but he’s beginning to show real signs of a capacity to emulate his famous forerunner.
TOO SOON FOR RESPONSIBILITY?
Despite a rotation system currently in force at the Juventus Stadium, Dybala has managed to post the most league appearances of any first-team forward at the club this term. He’s featured in eight of the Scudetto holders’ nine Serie A matches, with five of those outings coming from the very beginning.
When the Bianconeri plump for a front pairing, which they’ve preferred in two-thirds of their league contests to date, Dybala has been an almost certain starter.
However, coach Allegri appears reticent to include him as part of a three-pronged attack, leading to a lesser role in the Champions League, where Juve seem more comfortable within a 4-3-3 set-up.
In addition, there have been question marks over whether Allegri trusts him sufficiently in big games, when Dybala recently completed just 21 minutes on the pitch against title-chasing Inter and continental foes Borussia Monchengladbach combined – both clashes ending in scoreless draws.
BACK WITH A BANG
Dybala was restored to the starting line-up at home to Atalanta on Sunday, and seemed utterly determined to prove his worth when scoring a delicious opener, before providing the second for Croatian hitman Mario Mandzukic in a competent 2-0 victory.
The quality of his left-footed finish from 20 yards was astounding, while the open-mouthed roar which accompanied his celebration told its own story.
The impressive South American unselfishly sets up opportunities for others, scores goals with stunning regularity, and works incredibly hard for the team – attributes which all compare favourably with luminary Tevez.
He’s created more chances, completed a higher number of key passes and laid on more assists per 90 minutes – and overall – than any of his fellow forwards Mandzukic, Alvaro Morata and Simone Zaza. Furthermore, he has attempted 27 shots in this Serie A campaign, which puts him 11 ahead of nearest competitor Morata on that count.
His confidence to have a crack from any area of the field has paid handsome dividends in the form of four league strikes, plus one during the Old Lady’s Supercoppa Italiana triumph over Lazio in August, and no other squad member has notched more than a single Serie A goal thus far.
Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri presumably believes that he is handling Dybala with kid gloves at a vulnerable point in his career by resting him on occasion; but perhaps he should put faith in the youngster to such a degree that he quickly assumes the status of an established star across all competitions thanks to an evidently growing influence.
It appears to be only a matter of time before the situation develops into a contest over who will join Dybala in attack, as opposed to if he will start at all.