Paulo Dybala – The Jewel of Palermo
There were a lot of transfers this past summer that impacted Serie A and grabbed all the headlines. But perhaps of the most crucial was one in which Serie A fans took relatively little notice of – Palermo’s signing of Argentinian teenager Paulo Dybala.
Known in his homeland as La Joya (The Jewel), young Dybala set the Argentina Primera B Nacional alight last season with his performances for Instituto, a club famed for producing the likes of 1978 World Cup winner Mario Kempes and Tottenham legend Ossie Ardiles.
Making his debut aged only 17, Dybala quickly set about dismantling the club’s goalscoring records. In only one season playing for the senior team he became the youngest scorer in the club’s history, the first player of Instituto to score two hat-tricks in one season and also the first player to score in six consecutive games for the club (breaking the previous record of four).
He ended his debut season scoring 17 goals in 38 league appearances, an impressive feat considering the league is notorious for low scoring matches.
Given such statistics it only made sense to read stories of Dybala linked to a host of illustrious clubs such as Inter, Benfica, Porto, Manchester City and Chelsea. It therefore came as quite a surprise when mid-table Serie A side Palermo announced they had signed the player in July.
Taking a closer look though, it does make sense for Dybala to join the Sicilian side. The Rosanero have a recent history of successfully nurturing talent brought in from South America – the two most notable being Javier Pastore and Edinson Cavani.
La Joya would also have a greater chance of playing time with such a club and although club president Maurizio Zamparini can be erratic, there already exists a sizeable Latin American contingent already within this Palermo squad to aide Dybala’s adjustment to life on the peninsula. His time at Palermo so far has been interesting.
Currently now at the end of matchday 14, Dybala has made eight appearances for Palermo, including three starts. His total playing time so far sit at 317 minutes. Without doubt his most shining display came in the game against Sampdoria with the Argentine scoring his first Serie A goal, and added another to his tally in the same game for good measure.
Two goals in eight appearances is not a bad return for a 19 year old but there has been one stumbling block. Palermo manager Gian Piero Gasperini has said he does not think a strike partnership of Fabrizio Miccoli and Paulo Dybala can function as they are too similar.
Watching Paulo Dybala play is an intriguing event. Even for a 19 year old he looks very young. But don’t be fooled by the baby face, beneath the boyish looks lies a cut-throat finisher. He possesses a maturity and composure in front of goal that is usually only ever found in older players.
He is an extremely left-footed player but his deceptive body posture and agility prevent this from limiting him. An intelligent passer of the ball, possessing the awareness when to force a pass through or when to move the ball on taking the simple and safe option.
Despite his relatively looking lightweight frame, Dybala can also shift gears and as mentioned, and one of his main strengths is quickly shifting balance in the opposite direction, leaving defender stumbling as they try to match his sharpness.
Arguably what makes Dybala a cut above so many other players like him is that he is endowed with such a pure left foot. It is rare to see him mishit or scuff a shot or a pass. His striking technique is very sound and consistent, allowing him to turn a high ratio of his chances into goals.
Zamparini branded Dybala as the ‘new Aguero’. Although it certainly is a flattering label for the youngster, in style he shares more with Porto’s James Rodriguez – a technically gifted left-footed attacker, able to play wide but also dictate as near enough a false nine in the centre acting as a centre-forward at times.
His passing ability is not no the same level as James but he is more direct. Gasperini may not see Dybala as a fundamental piece of his Palermo puzzle at the moment, but be rest assured, a player of Dybala’s current ability and frightening potential will begin to force his way into that Palermo side sooner rather than later.
We may just be witnessing the blossoming of a future Serie A superstar!