Paulo Dybala — Argentina’s next Messi-ah?

The Argentine youngster shouldn’t be pressurised by the media or the supporters and be allowed to prosper, playing the way he has been.

Paulo Dybala has played down the comparison with Lionel Messi, saying, “There is only one Messi. People need to understand that I am Paulo Dybala and I want to continue to be Paulo Dybala.”   -  Getty Images

Paulo Dybala has been touted as the next big thing in football, and he showed why with his genius performance against Barcelona. The 23-year-old Argentine has been scoring for fun in the Serie-A for Juventus — his 23 goals last season (19 in Serie A) were integral to the team winning the title. Ever since the departure of Paul Pogba, it’s Dybala who has taken over the mantle at Juventus as the superstar of Turin.

READ: Juventus ties Dybala down until 2022

Coming from Argentina, comparisons with Lionel Messi are certain for any player, especially if you have shown the kind of talent Dybala has at such a young age. Messi, too, when he broke into the Barcelona squad at the age of 17 was often compared to Diego Maradona but he has managed to carve his own path, and managed to move himself away from Maradona’s shadow to forge his own legacy.

Dybala, on his part, has played down the comparison. Speaking to the press before the Champions League tie against Barcelona, he had said: “There is only one Messi. People need to understand that I am Paulo Dybala and I want to continue to be Paulo Dybala.”

Both the players though have some similarities, and the way Dybala scored his two goals against Messi’s Barcelona — overshadowing the wizard himself — showed why Dybala is so highly praised.

For the first goal, he got the ball passed by Juan Cuadrado, and Dybala found space to turn, almost like a ballet dancer, and nestle the ball in the back of net with his left foot. The Barcelona defenders were left standing, not knowing what had struck them. The second goal was even more special. Dybala was at the edge of the box, and with the ball coming at pace, he let it rip with his left foot on the first touch, beating Ter Stegen on the near post. It was truly magical and there aren’t many players in the world who would have been able to do that.

 

It’s not often that Messi is the second-best Argentine on a football field, but that night he truly was behind Dybala.

Over the past decade, Messi has positioned himself as the undisputed king of the footballing world because he has done such acts repeatedly, season after season, game after game, so much so that it has become a standard expectation from him.

Nicknamed ‘La Joya’ meaning ‘The Jewel’, Dybala’s game play is a lot similar to Messi’s. Both have gifted left foots, and despite being goal scorers, they can easily play the role of creators in the midfield. In fact, both of them are indispensable for their teams. Dybala, too, sometimes likes to play from the midfield and dictate play. Both are given more of a free role by their managers to ensure they have a maximum impact. They like to run at defenders, and are quick, almost impossible to mark one on one. It’s also the reason both are often targeted by defenders with rather vicious tackles.

In fact, similarities do not end there. Messi, on his Argentina debut, was sent off against Hungary. Dybala, who recently made his first start for La Albiceleste against Uruguay was sent off. He was completely distraught, and was crying in the Argentina dressing room and stopped only after the intervention of Marcelo D’Andrea, the Argentina masseur fondly called “Daddy” by the team.

D’Andrea pulled Dybala, to one side and told him to “Calm down. “That’s what superstars do: They get sent off for the national team. Messi did it against Hungary, You’ve already passed the test: You got sent off, so you must be a star.”

Dybala is just 23-years-old, and if he consistently keeps giving displays as the one against Barca, he indeed will be Argentina’s next Messi-ah! But till then, he shouldn’t be pressurised by the media or the supporters and be allowed to prosper, playing the way he has been.

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