When Cristiano Ronaldo departed for Manchester United this summer, many eyes turned to Paulo Dybala as the player who could assume the role of Juventus talisman, as they look to reclaim the Serie A title and begin another period of domestic dominance.
After a comeback win over Spezia on Wednesday night – and finally record a first league victory of the season – the Bianconeri welcomed and beat Sampdoria at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday afternoon and the Argentinean was quick to show that he can become the main protagonist in Turin.
However, after firing home a wonderfully instinctive first-time low shot past Blucerchiati goalkeeper Emil Audero on 10 minutes, the 27-year-old was soon trudging off the pitch with tears in his eyes, as a hamstring injury curtailed any further involvement in the 3-2 win, and is becoming a too frequent occurrence if the Old Lady are to count on Dybala.
There is no doubting that the South American is hugely talented and adept at the basic need of scoring the goals to take Juventus to another Scudetto, but the creativity in his boots will also be vital to future success, as will an often ignored ability to lead through his performance on the pitch.
Last season, though, the attacker missed 21 games because of three different injury problems and his ability to remain available to the Bianconeri cause and, while there are positives to be found from the fact that these are not one recurring injury, it does question whether coach Massimiliano Allegri can count on Dybala in the future.
Once the Argentina international had departed against Sampdoria, Juventus’ attacks became somewhat predictable. The determination of Juan Cuadrado and Federico Chiesa down the right-wing, Alvaro Morata looking to run the channels, and Federico Bernardeschi wandering aimlessly around.
Dybala has already scored three times and registered two assists in all competitions this season, after just five and three respectively last term. He would have hoped to go someway to reaching his pre-Ronaldo best of 24 goals in 2017/18, if not more.
With Torino, Roma, Inter and Chelsea, in the Champions League, to face in the next month, the Bianconeri could be out of the title race by the time their No. 10 returns and, if these injury issues keep recurring, few will believe the Argentine is the man to bring success back to the Old Lady.