|Image from Manchester Evening News|
Paulo Dybala is a player with great stature. Last season at Juventus was not the most successful of seasons for him, only managing a disappointing 5 goals from just over 2000 minutes of football. However his talent is undoubtable and he is held in high regards by many. The season before, he managed 22 goals in the league, regarded as one of the top 10 best players in the world at the time and the figurehead of Juventus. Just to speculate, the reason I feel Dybala largely underperformed last season is because of Ronaldo. Ronaldo coming in is obviously a massive coup for any club but for Dybala specifically it meant being moved out of position and being played more and more on the right. The main sticking point to this “Ronaldo Effect” is that the last season Ronaldo played for Real Madrid, Benzema too managed exactly 5 goals and since has scored over 20.
Coincidence…I think not.
Focusing now on Dybala’s playing style, his main preferred role is playing as a number 10 behind a striker. This means he is obviously more suited to a 4-2-3-1 (the main system Ole has deployed in pre-season thus far) rather than a 4-3-3. Sarri was especially unwilling to divert away from a 4-3-3 at Chelsea and so a situation in which Dybala comes to Manchester United would be the best for his career.
In terms on his skillset, Dybala has amazing finishing, having outscored his expected goals in his most prominent season by a whopping 13 goal difference (22 goals vs 9 expected) as well as having had a massive 75% conversion rate and whilst this may not be sustainable it definitely shows his great talent when he is played in his preferred role. This conversion rate however shows the clinical nature of Dybala, which could help with spreading the reliability for goals more evenly across the attackers. His long shots are also phenomenal as well as his free-kick taking, scoring plenty on his way to where he is now. With United lacking a recognise set piece taker as well as a number 10, Dybala would be perfectly suited to the club.
Moving on now to perhaps his greatest quality, dribbling. Last season he managed a 55% success rate for his dribbles, a great figure. This is of course helped by his smaller figure. giving him a lower centre of gravity and allowing himself to wriggle past defenders with ease. His intellect is not to be underestimated as well, knowing when to time runs and beat an offside run as well as when to play a pass, pivotal aspects of being a 10. Whilst his creative aspect may have faded over recent seasons as his focus have been to score, he can still create and would be predicted 7 assists in a Manchester United shirt based on his previous creation records over the past 3 seasons.
However, not everything is butterflies and fairies with Dybala and with him comes drawbacks. The main one I would say is that he has to be the main focal point of the attack; the attack must be centred around him. There is a chance this could take away from Martial and Rashford but his creative aspect may also be able to aide them in bringing them more opportunities. He is also inconsistent at times, going missing in some games however he often makes his presence felt in big games.
To conclude, whilst Bruno Fernandes may also be signed to play as a number 10, Dybala’s talent is undeniable and being 25 is yet to hit his peak. Ole also seems to have been crying out for a number 10 so far this pre-season, so there a few disadvantages with bringing him in. Whilst at the moment the ball is in his court, it is clear to see he would be a massive coup for the club both on and off the pitch with him being a key figure at Adidas along with Pogba. We now eagerly await his decision as fans, and see if Paulo Dybala at the Theatre of Dreams is to be or not to be.