Paulo Dybala and Juventus have never looked further from a happily married couple.
Even in the summer of 2019, when the club were determined to ship him out to any old taker, La Joya’s love for Turin kept the embers of romance aflame. But love is well and truly dead in the water now.
Dybala has seemingly had enough of being second, third or fourth best for the Old Lady, and with his contract set to expire at the end of next season, time is running out for the pair to rekindle their relationship.
His latest act of rebellion – ignoring coronavirus protocols to attend a party hosted by Weston McKennie – has only driven a wider wedge between the two.
Perhaps neither player nor club wants to reminisce over the good times, though. The Argentine has long wanted a new contract, but most importantly, to be considered the face and future of this Bianconeri side.
His demands were shelved upon the mega-signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, however, and he has been put in the corner ever since. The moment to make a decision on whether to give it another go or call it a day is fast approaching, but with only 12 months remaining on his current deal, and facing an ever-depreciating transfer market, Juve are aware that his value will have dropped considerably.
One way around this logistical nightmare would be to use Dybala as bait, and strike a deal that would bring another superstar to Turin, while sending the 27-year-old in the opposite direction. A squad rebuild is very much needed for the Serie A champions, and relieving the Jewel from their wage bill while signing a match-winner in his place could be a smart move in the current financial climate.
But which clubs would be open to a swap, and who should Juve be targeting? 90min runs through ten possible players who could be used as a makeweight in a Dybala deal.
It must be such a frustrating experience to be a creative, attacking talent in a Diego Simeone side. Joao Felix has had an impressive season at Atletico Madrid, but the feeling remains that he could be so much better if he played in a team that put their foot on the ball a bit more.
Although Dybala may not fit the bill given his injury issues and desire to play beautiful football, he may be used as a bargaining chip for Juve to land themselves another superstar of the game. The potential linkup between Felix and Ronaldo could tempt the forward across to Italy…
It’s an ambitious one, but Juve aren’t here to mess about. They are dying for a bit of drive and ingenuity in the midfield, and Frenkie de Jong would provide exactly that. His relationship with Matthijs de Ligt would also be a potential pull, simultaneously quashing fears that the centre-back may want to join Barcelona in the future to be with his bestest bud.
As for the Catalan giants, Dybala has long been linked with a move to Camp Nou to pick up the torch from Lionel Messi. Plus, even if they didn’t need him, it wouldn’t be the first time the Blaugrana made a random deal in the transfer market.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Martin Odegaard’s short spell at Arsenal, it’s that he’s way too good for Arsenal. The Norwegian star deserves to be playing in the Champions League, whether Real Madrid believe he has the quality or not.
I Bianconeri need someone to link the midfield and attack, and Odegaard has demonstrated during his time at Real Sociedad and Arsenal that he can win matches single-handedly. Worth a punt, lads.
Bayern Munich could be in for a bit of a rebuild this summer, and finding someone to support Robert Lewandowski will be a priority. Dybala would thrive in the Bundesliga, and he could find a happy home in Germany.
In return, Juve may look to pinch Bayern midfielder Corentin Tolisso. They’ve shown with their signing of McKennie from Schalke that they’re not afraid to dip into this market, and will back themselves to get the best out of the Frenchman and give him the game time he requires.
The fall from wonderkid to disappointment is hard to fathom in the case of Madrid’s Isco. So much was expected of the Spaniard, but he has delivered so little over the past few years. However, there is still an excellent player in there, and approaching his 29th birthday there will be teams and coaches who believe they can unlock his true potential.
Juve and Andrea Pirlo may be that partnership to help him recapture the form he showed upon his arrival at the Bernabeu, and no doubt Madrid will welcome the signing of a player as talented and tactically flexible as Dybala.
Despite paying an absolute bucketload to sign him, we’re still not sure Barcelona were ever truly sold on Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian winger then went and scored against them on the way to winning the Champions League with Bayern last season, so that’s a pretty tough one to recover from.
The attacking midfielder has previously spent time in Italy with Inter, and so adapting to a new country wouldn’t be too great a challenge for him. Most of all, we can really see him rocking the black and white stripes.
The major concern for any Juventus supporter is their midfield, and their primary target should be Marco Verratti. The Italian midfielder has never set foot on a Serie A pitch, and given he is a Bianconeri fan himself, this one feels like a done deal.
Paris Saint-Germain won’t let go of him easily though, and he still has another three years remaining on his contract. Not straightforward, but certainly one worth pursuing.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Dybala was linked with a switch to north London, but perhaps Juve would like something in return this time around. Forward Son Heung-min’s contract with Tottenham Hotspur expires in the summer of 2023, and talks have stalled over the possibility of a new deal.
Son would be a world-class addition to this Juve side, bolstering their forward line with bags of pace and invention. If the South Korean decides he needs to be playing in the top European competitions with regularity, and at a club that’s in with a shout of lifting the trophy, then he may be tempted by a move to Turin.
It would be very ‘Manchester United’ to sign Dybala and stick him out on the right wing, where he generally doesn’t picture himself playing all too often. He wants to play centrally, but finding space in this Red Devils lineup is easier said than done. Just ask Donny van de Beek.
Still, if Paul Pogba insists that he wants to leave Man Utd in the summer, they may have little option than to surrender to his demands. And if it is Juve who come knocking, Ed Woodward may spot his chance to come out of this negotiation with some credit in the bank.