South America is a football hotbed. It’s a lifestyle for everyone on the continent, never mind specific countries. One of those nations that are rich in talent is Argentina, what with the likes of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero. Both strikers shined at a young age and showed signs, even in their teens, that they’d be world class. There’s yet another youthful Argentine forward on the cusp of greatness, and his name is Paulo Dybala.
Dybala, 19, is from Cordoba and currently plays for Serie A club Palermo. He played for his hometown team Instituto in Cordoba province and made his professional debut for the second division side at the age of 17. He appeared in 40 games and scored 17 goals, shattering all sorts of records along the way. Dybala became the youngest scorer for the club, breaking the milestone held by former great Mario Kempes, and was the youngest player to play 38 straight matches, once again beating out Kempes for that feat.
Following his brilliant campaign, he caught the attention of Palermo’s scouting team, who eventually signed him in the summer of 2012. The hype surrounding Dybala was so strong, that many compared him to Sergio Aguero and Vincenzo Montella. Even president Maurizio Zamparini exclaimed “We’ve signed the next Aguero!”
No one believed Zamparini at first, but considering the Rosanero’s past acquisitions from South America, like Javier Pastore and Edinson Cavani, many were patient with Dybala. He made his debut in the Serie A against Lazio, but failed to score. On November 11th, four days before his 19th birthday, Dybala earned a brace against Sampdoria in his first ever start for Palermo. That’s when fans and pundits finally understood the club president’s comparison to Aguero.
Not only are they both close in height and body build, but they possess similar skills. For someone so young, Dybala shows brilliant composure and finishing techniques. He’s also very quick and has the footwork to pass defenders like they’re pylons.
In what has been a poor season for Palermo, their one positive (and the only player not to be jeered by supporters at an open training session last week) has been Dybala. Unfortunately, he’s only started 10 matches and whenever he comes on as a substitute, he gets around 20-25 minutes of time. It’s important that he isn’t played a lot considering he’s new to Europe, let alone Italy, but in a campaign that’s looking bleaker by the week, it may benefit his future to be given more time on the pitch.
Considering it’s his first season in Europe and the first full one in a top division, Dybala has come leaps and bounds. All that’s left is for his body to develop and for him to gain maturity, which he’s already started to do. Also, if (and that’s a big if) Palermo manage to keep a coach for longer than a couple of months, that wouldn’t be bad either.