First the return of Massimiliano Allegri, and now this – summer 2021 is turning out to be a special one for Juventus supporters.
The past three years have seen Paulo Dybala tipped to become the kingpin of the Bianconeri forward line, knighted as the heir to Lionel Messi’s throne at Barcelona, and then suffer a fall from grace so great that his current club have tried to force him out of the door on more than one occasion.
The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer of 2018 completely turned Dybala’s future upside down, as it quickly became apparent that: 1) the Argentine was no longer the main man, and 2) one of the pair may have to leave to keep the club financially stable.
This €31m-a-year addition meant contracts talks with Dybala stalled, and caused tensions and friction to grow between club and player. Many supporters imagined that they’d seen the last of La Joya in a Juve shirt after the Champions League qualification securing victory over Bologna in May, but the latest updates suggest he’s finally being rewarded for his loyalty and insane talent.
La Gazzetta broke the news on Saturday that I Bianconeri are ready to honour Dybala with the bumper contract he craves (and deserves), sending out the clearest indication that he will become the star of their forward line – with or without Ronaldo.
Now, anyone who watched Dybala last season might question the motives behind that deal, particularly when the club could still get a decent transfer fee for his services, as his contract ticks into its final 12 months.
The 27-year-old managed only four goals and three assists in 2020/21, a far cry from the 22 goals and five assists he delivered in Allegri’s final season at the club in 2017/18. But it is those figures from three years ago which have inspired Juve’s change of heart – or more importantly, the return of the man who helped him reach such devastating heights.
Allegri knew exactly how to maximise Dybala’s endless potential during his time in Turin, transforming the star from a precocious and skilful trickster to a ruthless and clinical goal machine. He scored 52 league goals in the three years under the title-winning coach – almost unrecognisable figures, when compared to the 20 he mustered in the past three campaigns.
It’s safe to say, La Joya’s career has stalled without Allegri’s tutelage, and the switch from protagonist to Ronaldo’s side-kick knocked his confidence down a flight of stairs. But the winds are changing in Turin.
Their Portugese superstar has also entered the final year of his contract, but it’s simply not financially feasible for the Bianconeri to offer him another eye-watering deal. That ship has sailed, and the experiment has failed.
In placing renewed faith in Dybala, there is also renewed hope. It’s clear that Juve are at a crossroads, and in rehiring Allegri, they’ve already decided to make this journey while wearing a pair of old, comfortable slippers.
It’s time to travel back in time by three years, and admit that by building a team around Dybala, they were on the right path after all. He was the past – and they wasted his present – but it’s not too late to make him their future.