Full Name (Nickname): Paulo Bruno Exequiel Dybala (EL Cholo)
Born: Laguna Larga, Cordoba, Argentina
Role: Second Striker
Strength: Creativity, Dribbling, Flair, Offensive abilities
A magician with and without the ball, Paulo Dybala is an Argentine footballer who plays for Serie A giants Juventus, who he joined in 2012. Born in Laguna Larga, Cordoba, Argentina, to Adolfo and Alicia de Dybala, the Juventus star always had an eye for football and never missed the chance to kick a ball around. What has shocked fans in the past is the fact that Dybala’s father, Adolfo, predicted that one of his sons would go on to become a professional footballer, something he tried but failed to do, before Paulo was even born.
However, once the scouts saw the youngest of the Dybala household play football, it was evident that his father’s prediction would come true. A supremely talented star, Dybala started making headlines even before he turned eighteen years old, thanks to his natural flair, incredible technical and offensive abilities.
Eventually, he was signed by Primera B Nacional side Instituto de Cordoba and made his debut for the club at the age of 17. The scout who insisted that the club sign the young Argentine had watched him play for barely ten minutes before convincing all the parties involved that a deal had to take place.
Time and his height added to his problems as a young player but thanks to Dybala’s persistence and other factors that the Argentine eventually made his debut for Instituto de Cordoba. Soon, the goals started flowing in, with the Argentine consistently finding the back of the net for the Primera B Nacional side. With his first goal, he became the youngest player since the legendary Mario Kempes to score for Cordoba, and the first since Kempes again to play in 38 consecutive matches.
That started a buzz about the young Argentine, with his two hattricks and goals in six consecutive games further improving his stature in the footballing world. Eventually, Instituto de Cordoba knew that they were going to lose their prodigy and when Palermo came calling, they could do nothing to stop Paulo Dybala from signing for the Serie A side.
Once Palermo watched Paulo Dybala play, the Italian side believed that they had a rough diamond on their hands and they had to make the first move. That’s exactly what they did, eventually shelling out €12million for the Argentine forward. He made his debut in the second game of the season against Lazio. It took the young forward some time to adjust to the Serie A’s style of play and physicality but eventually, Dybala scored his first goal.
It came against Sampdoria in his fifth appearance and as if that wasn’t enough, the forward doubled Palermo’s advantage with his second goal. The game finished 2-0 and Paulo Dybala had announced himself to the Serie A, with then manager Gian Piero Gasperini forced to play the young 18-year-old star consistently.
He continued making appearances for the side, making six starts in the next ten games, but he struggled to find the net, scoring just one goal. However, that changed the following season and with Palermo getting relegated, Dybala saw his chances increase. The then 19-year-old added to his tally for the club in his second season, starting the first 11 games. But he struggled to score goals once again, with just three assists to his name.
That didn’t suit then manager Giuseppe Iachini and he dropped the youngster from his line-up, with Dybala playing just the one game in the next 14 matches. Something changed Iachini’s mind and he brought the young Argentine on as a substitute. Paulo Dybala responded by scoring the deciding goal in a 2-1 victory over Bari and that convinced Iachini. The Argentine went on to play almost every game after that, scoring four more times and producing three more assists.
It showed what Dybala could do for the team. While the Argentine was lacking consistency on the field, he showed a marked improvement. But it was in the next season that Dybala was set free by Iachini, as Palermo returned to the Serie A. He built the team around his superstar. Once again, Dybala responded and in incredible style scoring 13 goals and providing 10 assists in 35 appearances.
This also included an incredible run where the youngster scored and assisted 11 goals in 8 consecutive games. The streak included goals against AC Milan, Udinese and even Atalanta, which eventually showcased what Paulo Dybala could do when in the mood. He finished the season with the fourth-highest number of assists in the league, behind only Antonio Candreva, Marek Hamsik, Domenico Berardi and Franco Vasquez. That form and Dybala’s prolific nature didn’t come as a shock to many at Palermo and like Instituto de Cordoba, they could do nothing when Juventus came calling.
The Serie A giants realised exactly who Paulo Dybala could be for them and made the first move for him, eventually convincing Palermo to sell him for €32million plus add-ons. This has since been called a bargain, especially considering what the Argentine did in his debut season at the club. He made his club debut against Lazio in the Supercoppa Italiana, scoring on his debut.
From there, things simply shot up. Dybala scored two more in his first three Serie A games before adding on to make it six goals and two assists in his first 16 appearances. This meant that he outscored both Alessandro Del Piero (the man Juventus hoped Dybala would replace) and Carlos Tevez’s goals per game ratio in their debut seasons. Only Italy legend Roberto Baggio had a better record than the prolific Argentine.
He also played his first Champions League game against Manchester City, and while he would go on to play in every group-stage game, the forward failed to score. However, given his ability and talent, goals were bound to come and they did, in the 2-2 home draw in the last-16 clash against Bayern Munich. An injury stopped him from playing the second leg, which Juventus lost 4-2 and also caused him to miss two more games in the Serie A.
However, he recovered quickly and scored his 20th goal of the season against Lazio and finished the campaign as a Serie A title winner and also as Juventus’ top-scorer. But Dybala failed to win the Capocannoniere, with Gonzalo Higuain netting 35 goals for Napoli. The addition of Gonzalo Higuain the next season saw a change, with Dybala playing as the second striker in Massimiliano Allegri’s preferred 4-4-2 formation.
This saw his goals decrease but his work rate increased phenomenally that season and the young forward continued doing his part for the team. It showed that he was willing to go over and above for his side. However, Dybala being Dybala, he still managed to net 19 goals and create 9 assists, which included 11 in the Serie A and four in the Champions League. More so for Juventus, it saw the Argentine lead them in the Italian Cup, all the way to a final that Juventus once again dominated against Lazio, with Dybala scoring four times along the way.
While many see that season as one of Paulo Dybala’s failures, the Argentine still finished as one of the three finalists for the Champions League’s forward of the season. Things simply kept improving for both Juventus and Dybala, with the Argentine taking over Alessandro Del Piero’s number 10 jersey, which lay without a player after Paul Pogba left for Manchester United the season before.
That saw a marked change in Dybala, with him scoring an incredible 10 goals in his first six games of the 2017/18 season, which included two hattricks, one on his 100th appearance for the Old Lady. This time, no one could stop him as he finished the season with 22 goals in the Serie A alone, finishing behind only Ciro Immobile and Mauro Icardi in the race for the Capocannoniere. But he still finished as Juventus’ top scorer.
Juventus however, in their quest for Champions League glory, decided to go all out on the best Champions League player that money can buy – Cristiano Ronaldo. This, in turn, has affected Paulo Dybala’s ability to score goals this season, with the Argentine netting just eight goals and six assists (as of 18/02/2019) in all competitions in the 2018/19 season.
While Paulo Dybala was born in Argentina, the fact that his grandfather Boleslaw Dybala was from Poland and his maternal grandmother was from Italy, meant that he was able to choose from one of three national countries to represent at the senior level. In the end, the Juventus star picked Argentina, making his senior debut at the age of 21.
However, other issues and the fact that most managers believe that he plays in a similar role to Argentina legend Lionel Messi, saw Dybala not get picked on more than one occasion. He was not included for the Copa America Centenario 2016, and most of the qualification stages for the 2018 World Cup, with the Juventus star warming the bench.
While he was selected as part of the 23-man team for the 2018 World Cup, manager Jorge Sampaoli’s insistence on not using him saw him make just one appearance off the bench.
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