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Paulo Dybala, Juventus and the Problem With Italy

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More curious still is the apparent apathy from outside Italy. Dybala, a player who has previously captured the imaginations of Manchester United, Tottenham, Barcelona and Real Madrid, has received just one serious proposal from abroad, from Sevilla, that great collector of mercurial Argentine forwards. The catch is that it comes with a major pay cut. Considered one of the best players in Italy is out there for gratis, and far of Europe has barely blinked.

Partially, that is due to Dybala himself. His salary expectations rule out a overwhelming majority of clubs. His injury record might give others pause. His form, during the last couple of years, has been a bit inconsistent, though he would doubtless indicate that Juventus has hardly played in a way that may extract his best performances.

That, in actual fact, could be the most apposite factor. In an era when most teams play with some version of an attacking trident — two wide players cutting in, one central forward employed to create space — Dybala doesn’t have a natural home.

He’s, by inclination and disposition, a No. 10, a position that has all but ceased to exist in modern soccer. Even Juventus, where the role — as much because the number — carries a certain “weight,” as one in every of the club’s executives said this 12 months, is abolishing it. Elite soccer, now, doesn’t have room for what Italian soccer has long called the fantasista. Dybala may prove to be the last of the road.

However the limbo through which Dybala finds himself is an element of a broader trend, too. Italian soccer is an increasingly isolated ecosystem, a world unto itself. It isn’t just that Italian players, as a rule, don’t leave Italy: Only 4 members called to Roberto Mancini’s team for this month’s meeting with Argentina, the so-called Finalissima, played outside Serie A, the identical number as he called as much as his victorious squad for Euro 2020. It’s that the country’s coaches travel less and fewer ceaselessly, too. Carlo Ancelotti could have won yet one more Champions League lower than a month ago, and Antonio Conte may need helped Tottenham win back its place in Europe’s elite, but they’re exceptions fairly than the rule.

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