Paulo Dybala will always be the one that got away for Tottenham in the summer of 2019. Having brought Tanguy Ndombele to north London at the start of July, transfer deadline day was always going to be frantic for the Lilywhites as they looked to complete any remaining business before the window slammed shut until January. Hopeful of completing deals for both Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon after talk of them moving for much of the summer, a potential deal for Dybala all of a sudden seemed possible with a Juventus exit looking increasingly likely.
A sensational move for the Argentine had been discussed between both clubs at the end of July and many believed that they would get it over the line with a few hours to spare.
With Lo Celso and Sessegnon announced shortly before the 5pm deadline came and went, Dybala remained in Italy after the player’s image rights put an end to what would have been an incredible piece of business by the club.
Still there was talk of the highly-rated attacker moving on amid fears over his place in Maurizio Sarri’s team and the real possibility that he could miss out on the Bianconeri’s Champions League squad. However, following talk of a switch to Paris Saint-Germain, the European transfer deadline passed with Dybala still in Turin.
Thankfully for the player, he was included in Sarri’s European squad as Emre Can, Mario Mandzukic and Giorgio Chiellini, due to his serious knee injury, missed out on selection. While that was certainly a weight off his shoulders, the next challenge facing Dybala square in the face was to force his way into the new manager’s team and get some minutes under his belt in the league.
A regular in the Juventus team since joining from Palmero back in 2015, the 25-year-old has so far made seven appearances this season – four starts and three substitute appearances – that has added up to 344 minutes on the pitch (Transfermarkt).
A player of Dybala’s quality will certainly not be pleased with his game time but the fact that he did net in their crucial 2-1 victory over Inter Milan last time out does bode well for him.
Goals and good performances will keep him in the team and he cannot let his standards drop with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain to contend with for a spot in the starting XI.
Speaking after the win over SPAL at the end of last month, Sarri hailed the importance of the Argentine when discussing his attacking options.
“Dybala gives us quality and more solutions going forward,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“Cristiano Ronaldo was lively today and created four or five scoring opportunities, while Higuain has been doing well this season.
“It’s good to have three forwards where any combination you choose, you can’t really go wrong.”
The return of Higuain to Juventus after his loan spells with AC Milan and Chelsea means that Dybala will have to accept the fact that he won’t be starting every week for the Serie A champions, meaning there will always be talk of an exit if he’s getting a lack of minutes on the pitch.
What next for Dybala?
Well, the forward opened up on talk of a summer move after playing a key role in the Inter game and it appears that he will be remaining in Italy for the time being.
“It wasn’t an easy summer,” he told Corriere della Sera (via Football Italia ) “Hearing your name linked to every team and every place, where you don’t want to go, isn’t a nice thing.
“But this is football, even if before the transfer window opened I said: ‘I want to stay here.’
“I think it was more important to let the pitch do the talking, even if until the last day no-one knew what would happen.
“I wanted to stay, I wanted to play here and continue my career at Juve. I think I can still give a lot and I showed a glimpse of that against Inter.”
It won’t come as a surprise if Tottenham make yet another move to sign the Argentine in January. As a matter of fact, some rumours are still claiming Spurs still have plans to go for Dybala again in January. However, it would be in his best interests to remain at Juventus if he wants a sane career for himself. An abundance of game time is surely guaranteed in a Spurs side that are looking dismantled and need any form of creativity or inspiration at the moment. However, that same reason is why he should avoid a move to Spurs (at least in January).
The highly competitive nature of the Premier League coupled with Spurs current bad form means anything as much as one bad game (should he make a January move to Spurs) would see him labelled as a “flop” signing. Something Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe is currently facing at the moment.
Dybala is well respected at Juventus and should look to build his legacy further with the Bianconeri. Speaking on game time, the 25-year-old might see his chances limited this season but can take solace in the fact that Ronaldo and Higuain are 34 and 31 respectively and don’t have much left to play that “high-level” football. It would make sense for Dybala to struggle out for game time this season and see himself ease back into the starting lineup in a team where he is already highly rated and respected in the first place. And frankly speaking, who gives up the chance to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo?
The prospect of playing under the tutelage of fellow countryman Mauricio Pochettino might look a good one but then Dybala would be moving to a new country with a different culture and a different language as well. It might take a lot of time to settle in off the pitch talk less of on it. Take a Gareth Bale for example who has spent a good number of years in Spain and still doesn’t know how to speak Spanish – something he has been criticized for largely in the past.
In his best interest, Dybala should stay at Juventus and fight for a starting place as there is still lots he has to offer the club and vice versa.