The Jewel lands in the Eternal City
There hasn’t been much discussion of anything else recently in the Italian city other than Paulo Dybala, who is now a player for Roma. The Giallorossi announced the signing of “La Joya” (The Jewel), whose Juventus contract expired on June 30, after brisk negotiations that caught the city off guard even before the club’s UEFA Conference League victory celebrations had died down.
Before Inter Milan’s interest waned as they concentrated on re-signing Romelu Lukaku to strengthen an already strong strike unit, Dybala appeared destined for them. Roma general manager Tiago Pinto acted immediately by making the Argentine playmaker a strong offer, supported by club owners the Friedkin Group.
— AS Roma (@OfficialASRoma) July 20, 2022
Between Sunday, July 17 and Monday, July 18, the negotiations between the club and the player reached a turning point. Roma supporters barely had time to question the validity of the deal because the shift in speed was so abrupt. Paulo Dybala departed early on Monday for the Algarve in southern Portugal, where Jose Mourinho had organised a summer training camp for the team.
Just two days later, Dybala’s arrival was announced. Before the transfer was formally announced, Dybala was spotted in Portugal sporting a Giallorossi jersey, leaving some supporters perplexed as to how a deal could have been reached so quickly.
However, a verbal agreement had been made relatively quickly, and some additional time was required to work out the specifics with the Argentinian’s entourage. The club intended to reassure its followers that the relocation would proceed in the meantime by sending them a message.
A few keen-eyed Roma Twitter users noticed that the first letter of a sequence of posts spelt out the word P-A-U-L-O-D-Y-B-A-L-A during their friendly match versus Sporting. Before the actual transfer announcement, this mysterious teaser was more than enough to calm worried supporters. On July 20, the agreement was officially announced by the club, and Dybala said his first words while wearing the Roma jersey.
— AS Roma (@OfficialASRoma) July 21, 2022
The dedication and quickness with which Roma demonstrated their desire for him made all the difference, he stated of the days leading up to his signing. “I am joining a developing team, with a club that continues to build stronger foundations for the future, and a manager, Jose Mourinho, with whom it is an honour to be able to work.
“As an adversary, I appreciated the energy the Giallorossi fans generated; I can’t wait to meet them wearing the Roma shirt.”
Tiago Pinto, the club’s general manager, declared that Paulo’s decision to join our endeavour “is a testament to the club’s legitimacy and a symbol of the hard effort that, all together, we are putting in to push Roma forward.” “Paulo is a well-known athlete who has attained international recognition and won significant trophies. He’ll bring that class to Roma, and I have no doubt that his presence will make the team better and more competitive.
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) July 21, 2022
Puzzle of strategy for Mourinho
Jose Mourinho now has a wide range of attacking options thanks to the arrival of Dybala. The Argentinean might operate as a withdrawn forward in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolo Zaniolo on either flank and behind Tammy Abraham. He could also replace Zaniolo in the starting lineup and play alongside Abraham as the second striker in a 3-4-1-2 formation.
Zaniolo is rumoured to have been in talks with Juventus in recent weeks, which, while not yet resolved, may ultimately cause him to leave Rome. If Zaniolo decides to stay, Pellegrini might switch back to a holding midfield position to create place for him, leaving Zaniolo or Dybala to operate as an attacking midfielder. One thing is certain amidst all of these possibilities: the Portuguese coach now has much improved offensive options.
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) July 20, 2022
declining the 10
Before Dybala’s arrival was made public, it was assumed that he would select the No. 10 jersey, which has remained vacant ever since the illustrious Francesco Totti hung up his boots, though the club has not yet declared it officially retired. The former Giallorossi captain has frequently expressed his desire to see a player of Dybala’s calibre don the Giallorossi uniform.
However, the new hire has chosen to don his favourite No. 21 instead, choosing to avoid comparison or controversy in a city that supports its adopted heroes (just ask Jose). In the beginning, it could be preferable to stay within the lines, but who knows what will happen later?
🌟 PLAYER OF THE DECADE 🌟
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 31, 2019
Evidenced in Italy
After playing just one season of professional football in his native Argentina with Instituto Atletico Central Cordoba, a team he joined at the age of 10, Dybala was signed by Palermo and made his way to Italy ten years ago in 2012. In Serie B, Dybala assisted Palermo in winning promotion in 2013/14, and in Serie A the following season, he registered 13 goals and 10 assists.
At the Stadio Olimpico, Dybala scored his debut goal for Juventus in a 2-1 loss to none other than Roma in the summer of 2015. Dybala demonstrated his elite pedigree over his 293 appearances for the Turin-based squad by winning five times in Serie A, four times in the Coppa Italia, and three times in the Italian Super Cup.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) June 30, 2022
Step forward or backward?
Contrary to popular belief, the Argentinian’s decision to sign with Roma may perhaps be a step forward for the ambitious 28-year-old with UEFA Champions League experience. It is challenging to think of a better team than Roma to resurrect the career of a player with Paulo Dybala’s calibre.
With 36,000 season tickets already sold for the upcoming season, the club has a devoted fan base, wealthy owners with ambitious plans, high morale as a result of the team’s recent success in Europe, and, last but not least, a forward line that can rely on the prolific strike rate of Abraham, the all-around ability of Pellegrini, and the incisive running of Zaniolo.
In summary, the club has all the necessary components for an amazing success story to emerge. On November 22, when Argentina takes on Saudi Arabia in their opening encounter of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM, Dybala will be looking to get things going quickly and prepare himself physically and emotionally. He has undoubtedly highlighted this date on his calendar.
La Delegación @Argentina saludó al delantero en el día de su cumpleaños n° 28.
¡Lo mejor para vos joya 💎! 😁 pic.twitter.com/wjTOo7WukW
— Selección Argentina 🇦🇷 (@Argentina) November 16, 2021
Qatar has its sights set on silverware
Despite having 34 international appearances under his belt and making his Argentine debut against Paraguay in 2015 as part of World Cup qualifying, Dybala has received relatively few awards. At Russia 2018, he played a minor role, sitting on the sidelines for three of the four games, and participating for just 22 minutes in Croatia’s 3-0 victory.
He was a member of the Albiceleste squad that fell to Brazil in the Copa America semifinals in 2019. His international career was curtailed for nearly two years, during all of 2020 and a good portion of 2021, as a result of a string of injuries and deteriorating Juventus performances after that disappointment. Last year, Argentina won the Copa America without him.
In September 2021, Albiceleste coach Lionel Scaloni promptly brought Dybala back to the national squad, and he has retained his spot since then. The obvious next step is to collect some hardware and contribute significantly at Qatar 2022 to return the Argentinean people’s unwavering faith in him.
Now since Italy isn’t participating in the international championship for the second time in a row, even Roma supporters have a strong cause to follow Argentina’s progress with more fervour. Jose Mourinho would undoubtedly be pleased to see his new acquisition arrive from the Middle East with a World Cup trophy in his luggage.