Seven seasons after joining the club, Paulo Dybala has completed his move away from Juventus. He will be playing for AS Roma following months of speculation and near guarantees that he would be moving to Inter Milan. But what happened? How did this beautiful marriage fall apart and crumble so quickly and so catastrophically?
The Honeymoon Phase
When Juventus signed a 21-year-old Paulo Dybala, he was fresh off a spectacular three-year stint in Palermo, capped off by a 13-goal, 10 assist season in 2014-15. Juventus knew they had found their jewel and paid $45 million for their man, over three times as much as Palermo had spent on him in 2012.
FYI, Paulo Dybala stats so far this season with Palermo. Games (18), Goals (10), Assists (6). Stunning! #TalentRadar pic.twitter.com/pM3RwdVQWM— Hendri Nuryadin (@hendri_asr) January 20, 2015
He joined the team in July and scored on his debut in a 2-0 Supercoppa win over Lazio. Dybala scored 23 goals in all competitions and was second in the Serie A golden boot race during his first season in Turin. It was clear the talent he possessed but Juventus seemed reluctant to make Dybala its main attacking threat.
Under Massimiliano Allegri, Dybala began playing as a center-forward or second striker but over time, he began to lose his defined place on the pitch. This became especially evident with new attacking signings like Gonzalo Higuaín, just a year after Dybala joined the club.
The Early Warning Signs
The Argentinian pair combined to score 51 goals in all competitions, but Dybala’s numbers took a hit, scoring just 11 goals in the Serie A. He played most games as a second striker in a 4-2-3-1 behind Higuaín, but none was more special than the first leg against FC Barcelona at home. Two Messi-esque goals sent the Allianz Stadium into pandemonium and knocked out Barcelona just weeks after its incredible comeback against PSG. Against his hero, he had officially announced himself to the world and showed just a glimpse of the pure footballing genius that he was capable of.
COMPARED: Paulo Dybala 2017-18 vs. Cristiano Ronaldo 2018-19 in Serie A.It looks like there's only room for one sheriff in Turin... pic.twitter.com/0JnM8VGojW
— Squawka (@Squawka) August 3, 2019
A constant struggle for La Joya, as he came to be known, was injuries. He spent several weeks and even months on the sidelines due to muscle strains and hamstring injuries during his first years at Juventus. Despite these setbacks, he outscored Higuaín in 2017/18 and showed his versatility as he played on the wing, through the middle and even in midfield.
The club’s Champions League hopes ultimately fell short at the hands of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid, but that summer, everything would change for Juventus.
After the 2018 World Cup, Ronaldo shocked the world by announcing his $128 million transfer to Juventus. La Vecchia Signora had the eyes of the world on it and expectations to rival the world’s best.
While Ronaldo impressed in his debut campaign, Dybala suffered a tremendous drop in production. Just five goals in the Serie A and 10 in all competitions came as a result of Dybala being moved to the wing to make room for Ronaldo. He still showed his class occasionally, including a Champions League hat-trick against BSC Young Boys, but incredibly, at the age of 25, many began to write him off.
- Dybala is breaking down.. pic.twitter.com/f0B5CqCgQI— (@TheEuropeanLad) September 26, 2021
Despite its 8th consecutive league title, another unsuccessful Champions League campaign meant Allegri was given the sack. Two managers and one Inter Milan Scudetto later, Allegri was brought back in to right the ship and get Juventus back where they once were.
During this time, Dybala had gone from being named the Serie A MVP in 2019-20 to just a rotation player the following season. On top of that, he spent the better part of four months out in 2021 with an MCL injury and returned to play mostly as a late substitute for then-manager Andrea Pirlo.
Dybala has been linked with a move away from Juventus for years. From Tottenham and Barcelona to PSG and Manchester United. He would have commanded a hefty fee but neither Juventus nor Dybala wanted to separate. They had been a staple in each other’s lives for so long that it seemed impossible to imagine life without them.
Perpetual contract talks put the marriage in jeopardy and ultimately led to an announcement from Dybala himself that he would let his contract run out and he would be leaving the club in the summer.
Paulo Dybala to Roma, here we go! Full agreement in place on a three year contract, valid until 2025. Dybala will join as free agent #ASRoma @SkySportMourinho, key factor - he called Dybala to explain the project. All the documents being prepared, free transfer imminent. pic.twitter.com/qZaYmp5VqD
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 18, 2022
While it was not known definitively for some time where he would be going, on July 18, 2022, Fabrizio Romano let the world know that La Joya would be playing in the Eternal City for AS Roma.
At just 28 years old, there's every chance that he will run rampant in the Serie A, imposing his glorious will on defenses from Sampdoria to Salernitana. Just before the World Cup, getting good playing time is crucial and this move could be exactly what he needs to be on the teamsheet in Qatar.
Under manager José Mourinho and alongside Tammy Abraham, Nicolò Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini, the next chapter in Dybala’s career may just be his best.