The Argentine may have been crowned Serie A’s MVP for 2019-20, but he could be sold to help balance the Bianconeri’s books this summer
Paulo Dybala was so resigned to leaving Juventus last year that he even recorded a goodbye video for the club’s supporters.
The Argentine, though, ultimately rejected the chance to join either Manchester United or Tottenham, preferring instead to try prove his worth to Juventus.
He has done precisely that over the past 12 months, with his excellent form resulting in him being named Serie A’s MVP for the 2019-20 campaign.
In addition, Juve’s dismal Champions League last-16 exit at the hands of Lyon owed much to the fact that Dybala was not fit to start the second leg in Turin, and was then forced off injured just 13 minutes after his introduction as a second-half substitute.
The forward left the pitch in tears, and his sadness only deepened as he sat helpless on the sidelines watching his side eliminated on away goals by the seventh-best team in Ligue 1.
Dybala, though, must feel even worse now, given it has emerged this week that he remains available for transfer.
A lot has changed since Juve bowed out of the Champions League just 11 days ago.
Indeed, less than 24 hours after their elimination, Maurizio Sarri had been sacked and sensationally replaced at the helm by coaching rookie Andrea Pirlo.
Just a few days later, it was reported that Dybala was on the market, and then it was claimed that even Cristiano Ronaldo could depart.
The situation in Turin remains shrouded in uncertainty, which is hardly surprising.
Pirlo never even took charge of a single Under-23 match before being appointed to the top job at Juve, so it is difficult to predict how he wants to play and which players he wants to keep.
However, things have become a little clearer after Pirlo’s first proper meeting with Fabio Paratici and Federico Cherubini last Thursday.
With Blaise Matuidi having already joined Inter Miami after his Juve contract was cancelled a year early by mutual consent, Gonzalo Higuain and Sami Khedira are now set to follow the Frenchman out the door.
Higuain and Khedira may have become little more than bit-part players over the past 12 months, but both are on colossal salaries.
Indeed, the Argentine centre-forward began the season as the fourth-highest-paid player in Serie A on €7.5 million (£6.8m/$8.9m) net, while Khedira is on €6m (£5.4m/$7.1m).
Removing both from the wage bill, then, will go some way towards easing growing concerns over Juve’s outgoings, which have been exacerbated by the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with the Old Lady looking at a €70m (£63/$83m) deficit on the 2019-20 campaign, after posting a €40m (£36m/$47m) loss last year.
Elimination before the quarter-final stage of the Champions League was obviously a financial blow, one merely compounded by the subsequent decision to sack Sarri, which will cost the club approximately €20m (£18m/$24m), given he still had two years to run on his contract.
All of the above helps explain why president Andrea Agnelli took the low-cost option when it came to appointing a new coach.
It also added weight to the claims that Juve would be open to offloading Ronaldo, who costs the club approximately €87m (£78m/$103m) a year between gross salary (€58m) and amortised transfer fee payments (€29m).
However, it is Dybala who is at risk of being offloaded, not Ronaldo.
That may appear odd from a sporting perspective, given Dybala, at 26, is nine years younger than the Portuguese and was Juve’s best player last season.
Dybala’s agent has also been at pains to point out that his client is happy in Turin and remains as keen as ever to sign a new contract.
And it is true that the club first opened talks over a new deal months ago, as Dybala was viewed as the star around which the new Juve would be constructed.
As is the way in modern football, though, transfers are now more about balancing books than strengthening squads, and Dybala is the more attractive option for potential buyers. After all, how many clubs could even afford the Ronaldo’s €31m-a-year net salary?
Then, there is the fact that Dybala is demanding €20m (£18m/$24m) per annum; Juve are offering less than half that figure. Consequently, the Old Lady would be willing to cash in on the No.10.