As the end of the 2014/15 season slowly looms, it’s time to consider what some Premier League clubs might get up to in the summer transfer window.
And according to reports from The Express this morning, one of Manchester United and Arsenal’s first ports of call will be attempting to prize Argentine prodigy Paulo Dybala away from current club Palermo.
In fact, the 21 year-old looks set to be one of the summer window’s most sought-after players after an incredible campaign with Rosanero, as the tabloids link a host of the continent’s top clubs to his signature.
Unless you’re retro enough to know the ins and outs of Serie A however – or better yet, hipster enough to be well-acquainted with second-tier Argentinian football – you might not know too much about this young prospect causing such a wave throughout Europe.
Fear not, however, for Football Fancast is here to help. We’ve listed the FIVE things you need to know about Paulo Dybala, so have a quick read before heading for the pub to impress your mates with your new-found knowledge.
Paulo Dybala began his career in the humble surroundings of Cordoba-based second-tier club Instituto and was quick to make a lasting impression.
After making his debut aged 17 back in 2011, he became the youngest goalscorer in the club’s history – beating a record previously held by 1978 World Cup winner Mario Kempes, who also claimed the tournament’s Golden Boot and Golden Glove that year.
Soon after, the striker became the youngest player to make 38 consecutive appearances for Instituto, their first ever player to score two hat-tricks in the same season and their first player to score in six consecutive games.
Still a teenager at this point, despite boasting 17 goals in 40 games for Instituto, those record-breaking feats caught the attention of Palermo, who have quite the scouting operation in South America.
The moniker that’s mostly stuck with Dybala throughout his Palermo career is ‘the next Sergio Aguero’, coined by club President Maurizio Zamparini upon his official signing in April 2012.
He does share many traits with the Manchester City striker; particularly their creativity and mobility, rendering Dybala equally effective in attacking midfield and wide roles as well as being an out-and-out centre-forward.
But some have dubbed him ‘the new Messi’ for obvious reason – like his Ballon d’Or winning compatriot, the 21 year-old’s close control and ability to take on defenders is nothing short of phenomenal.
Personally, however, I view him somewhat closer to Barcelona star Luis Suarez. In parody of the former Liverpool talisman, he’s tenacious, feisty and hard-working – famed for his defensive contribution and tackle-breaking dribbles.
In truth, Dybala probably lies somewhere between all three. So perhaps the prevailing point, overall, is that he’s already a very complete, well-rounded forward with a plethora of diverse qualities.
Paulo Dybala’s 13 goals in 27 Serie A appearances might not seem so spectacular, but that makes him directly responsible for 33% of Palermo’s league goals this season – the fourth-highest contribution of a single player in the Italian top flight. When combined with his seven assists, that figure jumps up to over 50%
There’s also some other very promising stats regarding the young Argentine – particularly his 1.5 chances created, 3.6 shots and 2.7 successful dribbles per match. That might not make much sense on its own, so here’s the striker’s season in numbers compared to some of Europe’s best:
He doesn’t come out on top in any category, but for a 21 year-old playing in a somewhat unexceptional Palermo side, he’s certainly holding his own.
It would be a horrendous disservice to Franco Vazquez if I let the Argentine midfielder somehow go unmentioned in this article.
Although Paulo Dybala’s prodigious performances have been enthralling to watch this season, Vazquez’s role as the 21 year-old’s predominant supplier has verged upon intrinsic, notching up nine assists in 27 Serie A appearances – in addition to seven goals.
The Argentine duo complement each other so well that some sources, such as the Manchester Evening News, claim potential suitors will attempt to sign both this summer instead of breaking up the prolific partnership.
Then again, it’s often said footballing partnerships are made of one great player and one in the right place at the right time – take Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton or Michael Owen and Emile Heskey, for example.
Although Vazquez, aged 26, is a talented footballer, it’s Dybala who firmly belongs in the former category.
You won’t have reached the final page of this article without realising Paulo Dybala is one of Europe’s most in-demand strikers right now, just as the summer transfer window slowly starts looming in.
But it’s worth pointing out just how in demand and highly-rated the Argentine is throughout the continent.
You might not have known, for example, he was allegedly on the radars of Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City, Inter Milan and AC Milan before he signed up with Palermo in 2012, and earlier this season was linked with Southampton, Wolfsburg and Benfica – as reported by Here Is The City.
More recently, Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has claimed no less than six of Europe’s top clubs want to sign the 21 year-old this summer – namely, PSG, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona, Manchester City and Chelsea – as reported by ESPN – whilst The Daily Star have put Manchester United, Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund firmly in the mix too.
Zamparini has confirmed Dybala will be sold this summer, rating the striker at €40million (courtesy of ESPN once again). So one way or another, he will move on in the coming window – but where he ends up, right now, is anybody’s guess.