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Under our Talent Radar banner, we have constantly strived to document and highlight the progress of the younger stars of the beautiful game, before they progress into household names. Our latest initiative within the burgeoning Talent Radar section is the introduction of #The10 feature.
This annual feature champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look to reward 10 of the best young individuals across 10 primary categories. This piece looks at the best young star in between the posts.
For all queries regarding this feature, eligibility and selection process, read this piece.
Paulo Dybala is an Argentine striker currently playing for Juventus. The youngster made the move to Juventus this summer from Palermo for 32 million euros, in one of the blockbuster moves of the summer. He’s also a full Argentine international, making his debut in the recent World Cup qualifier against Paraguay, when he came on as a sub for Carlos Tevez.
The striker started out at Argentine club Instituto de Cordoba, playing in the second division, where he broke all sorts of records, including some held by the legendary Mario Kempes.He played 38 consecutive games there, scored 2 hattricks, and scored in 6 consecutive games. After some controversy about the paper work, he completed his move to Palermo, and in his time there, made enough of an impact to be signed by Juventus for a massive transfer fee.
After a great start to the 2014-15 season, he slowed down a little bit in the second half. During the winter break, Dybala was one of the hottest prospects in Serie A, and the likes of Juventus had already begun circling. He even went on a 5 game scoring streak, and ended the season with an impressive goal tally. His 13 goals and 10 assists saw him become one of the top assisters in Serie A last season.
The summer brought a change of surroundings, but not that much of a change in form and results. Although he struggled to make his place in the team initially, he’s adapted to the style of his new team, and the expectations of his manager very well. Despite not really featuring for the initial part of the season, he’s already notched up 7 goals and 2 assists for his team, including some match winning efforts. Notable performances include the one against Atalanta, which saw him score one, and set one up for Mario Mandzukic. He was also the difference in the match against AC Milan where he scored the only goal of the game to get the 3 points.
In terms of playing style, Dybala is similar to the likes of Tevez and Aguero. He has pace, technical skill, and movement as his main strengths, and uses them to dismantle opposition defences. He can play as an out an out striker, running in behind the opposition, or as a second striker, where he uses his skill and trickery to score and set up his fellow striker. Juventus have mostly used him in the latter position, and he has proven to be an effective foil to either Morata or Mandzukic. His play is very effective too, with 84% pass completion being the key, especially for someone who plays so far forward. He’s created 27 chances already this season, despite not always featuring. While his goal contribution will always be the final unit of measurement for his performances, his creativity has to be one of his major assets.
Adam Digby of FourFourTwo and BeInSport told Outside of the Boot this about Dybala:
“Two years after arriving at Palermo, Paulo Dybala exploded last season, showing all the skills you’d expect from a left-footed Argentinean number 10. Having earned a big-money move to Juventus this summer, he has already begun to not only repay that investment, but also to help the Bianconeri succeed in the post-Carlos Tevez era. There is no higher compliment.”
Rav of Juve FC had this to say:
“I was initially sceptical about us investing such a considerable amount in a youngster that only had one standout season under his built, regardless of how encouraging his performances had been. When I looked closer, I saw just what a difference he was making to a Palermo side that seemed to be propped up by his and Vazquez’ goals. Fast forward 5 months and we’re now talking about a player that is doing a similar job at Juventus – He’s propped us up during arguably our most trying and testing period in the last 4 years. He’s bright,invention, intelligent in his use of the ball, uses space brilliantly, both on and off the ball and his finishing is something else (See his goal against Lazio for further proof). the true story behind his contribution lies in the simple facts – He’s scored 8 goals and provided 3 assists. despite having made limited appearances for the first few months of the season. He and Mandzukic are responsible for close to 65% of Juve;s goals this season and between them, they’ve scored or assisted in each of our last 6 league matches. in short, Dybala is a difference maker. The kind of player that can conjure a moment of brilliance out of nothing. That 40m is looking like a steal!”
The South American pick was not easy to choose. Dybala did eventually come out as the best young player of 2015 from the continent, but it wasn’t without much deliberation on our part.
Atletico Madrid’s Uruguayan central defender, Jose Gimenez, drew the most complexity in picking a player for this category. Both Dybala & Gimenez were rewarded in our 2014-15 Talent Radar awards. But other options in Luciano Vietto, Mattias Kranevitter, and Felipe Anderson (who had a particularly impressive start to the calendar year) also gave a good account of themselves.