Last season, Paulo Dybala was in limbo. There was immense uncertainty about what was going on with his Juventus career. There was doubt about whether he will be in Turin for much longer if Massimiliano Allegri stayed at the bianconeri. Fast forward to today, La Joya has recovered his Juventus career under Maurizio Sarri.
Dybala could have easily been at Tottenham Hotspur or Manchester United currently if image rights issues hadn’t held the deal up. But due to fortune, he had to stay. Juventus couldn’t sell the Argentine and the decision was made to keep him.
Last season was largely down to Allegri’s drab system. Juventus hadn’t exactly won the league because they were brilliant. There was a certain amount of dullness about how they would play. It was slow and there was a lack of creativity.
Dybala became the prime victim of that. He was deployed on the right and due to the structured nature of the style, he was to hug the touchline. That has never been one of Dybala’s strengths. He’s more of a flair player- someone who needs the license to come inside and create things.
As a result, he could complete only 1.7 key passes per game and completed only 1.7 dribbles per game. Those are still the lowest tallies of his career. He took just 2.2 shots per game as well. That again is the lowest of his career.
The influence of Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t help him either. For a player who thrives on getting the freedom to move and roam, the attention on one player does have an effect on output.
While Allegri left, Dybala stayed. Moves to Spurs and United fell through at the last minute. And the onus lay on Sarri to resurrect the career of a highly talented individual. The start was slow, as La Joya could play only 14 minutes of the first three games.
But Sarri’s technical system now had a changed look. While Juve are a lot like Allegri’s Juve this season, it is down to the players still getting to grips with this new system. But the shape has changed from being a 4-3-3 to a 4-3-1-2. Dybala isn’t the wide player anymore. He’s either been the striker beside Gonzalo Higuain/ Ronaldo or he’s been the number ten.
And he’s been enjoying himself. He’s been one of the best players in the campaign. That is largely because of how much of the ball he gets in preferred positions.
He’s played 42.9 passes per game. That is the highest tally of his Juve career. He’s come up with two key passes and two dribbles per game. Both have been the second-highest of his career at the club.
In the league and Champions League combined, Dybala has had a hand in 19 goals while playing 28 games. One of the highlights of the season came against Atletico Madrid, when La Joya scored a sensational free-kick from a tight angle. In praise of him, Sarri said:
“Dybala is different class, in a very positive period of form, so right now he is making the difference.”
While Sarri will certainly not say what exactly has gone down. But he’s very much unlocked the potential in Dybala once again. He’s enjoying life and getting on the ball more often. For a creative force like him, the more of the ball he has the better it is for the team.
The three goals he’s come up with in Champions League have come at crucial points. The brace against Lokomotiv Moscow came in a 2-1 win. The free-kick against Atleti came in a 1-0 win.
His league goals against Milan, Lecce, Inter, Sampdoria and Atalanta have been crucial to sealing three points. They have been a definition of Dybala. When the things have been looking drab, he’s come up with crucial moments of inspiration.
If not for him, Juventus could have been much worse in the league. They might have been fighting for top four instead of being at the top. If there’s anything Juve should be happy about, it should be the fact that they kept hold of this wonderful player.