Paulo Dybala: The Rise of a STARBOY

by Matthew Vernot | | 0 comments

Dybala's signature gladiator celebration after scoring a goal

Paulo Dybala, La Joya, is a STARBOY.

Dybala’s grandparents come from Poland. His grandfather fled the country during World War II to Argentina for a job, which were non-existent in Krasniow. Dybala was born and grew up in Cordoba, Argentina, however he was eligible to play for Poland due to his Grandparents. He has said that he feels a strong connection to their story and would one day like to play in Poland to be closer to his roots.

Dybala chose Argentina even though he was eligible Poland and Italy due to his family heritage.

He began playing football at age 4. Dybala’s father was determined to make one of his three sons a professional footballer. He was at every training session, coaching and criticizing his every move in order to make Paulo into the best player he could be. Unfortunately, his father passed away when he was just 15 years old. Citing that it gave him “strength and maturity”, he took an offer to play for Instituto in the Argentine second division.

Dybala poses for a team photo after he signs with Instituto Atlético Central Córdoba

At Instituto he began to make a name for himself. After River Plate’s relegation to the second division, more eyes were on the league than ever. Dybala stole headlines in the beginning of the season when he scored 12 goals in the first 19 games.

As with many South American players, there is third party ownership which makes a transfer nigh on impossible to complete. He was subject to numerous bids from PSG, Chelsea, and Inter. However, rumors swirled that the Argentine FA blocked his move to Nike sponsored Inter Milan because they wanted him to sign with Adidas, who sponsors the national team. 

This led to a public fallout with the club. Although the club were resigned to having to sell the young starlet, they did not allow him to fly to Italy to negotiate with any clubs, or sign any contract regarding a transfer. This seemed to weigh heavily on Dybala, his production severely dropped off and he did not score in the final eight matches of the season.

Paulo became the youngest goal scorer, first player to score in six consecutive games, two hat tricks, and to play in 38 consecutive games. He netted 17 times in 40 games for the club.

Normally, an exciting young Argentine player signs for one of the two biggest clubs in Argentina, Boca Juniors or River Plate. However, Dybala chose a different path. He signed for Palermo of Serie A.

"We have got Paulo Dybala - the new Sergio Aguero." Maurizio Zamparini

Dybala finally signs with Palermo after controversy surrounding his third party rights.

During his first season in Serie A, he failed to impress, scoring just three times as Palermo were relegated to Serie B. This was his first top-flight action, so it was understandable that it would take time for him to adjust. Consistent axing of managers and an aging Fabrizio Miccoli did not help their battle against relegation.

The first team action proved valuable for Dybala as he showed flashes of his potential, dancing past defenders, dropping deep to lay the ball off, and scoring a brace against Sampdoria.

However, off the field trouble surrounded Dybala when a reporter broke a story that his transfer was broiled in corruption. Dybala’s rights were bought with laundered money, however it resulted in a profit of clean money when he sealed a transfer to Palermo. After his lackluster first campaign of top flight football, this was not good press for the young player dubbed the “next Sergio Aguero” when he was purchased.

Dybala makes a sharp cut during a match for Palermo, although the season ended in relegation to Serie B.

After Palermo’s relegation to Serie B, many people thought that Dybala would be able to find his level. However, he remained a largely peripheral member of the squad and only scored five goals. Dybala showed signs of maturity and developed a familiarity with a deeper role which helped him become a more complete attacker. 

STARBOY Evolution

In 2014, Dybala put elite clubs on notice. Forging an attacking partnership with Franco Vazquez in a 3-5-1-1 formation, he registered ten goals and thirteen assists. A great understanding with the fellow Argentinian playmaker almost never came to fruition. Both players had difficult starts to life with the Rosanero. Vazquez had an unsuccessful first season and was then loaned out. A managerial change was the break he needed. A vote of confidence from the new manager and a partnership with Dybala was a match made in heaven. Tearing Serie A defences apart, they helped Palermo finish 11th. 

Dynamic duo Dybala and Vazquez tore Serie A apart after getting promoted back to Serie A.

"Gattuso helped me a great deal because he was one of the guys who would kick me," Dybala said. "He used to give me advice on how I had to position myself to dodge the blows. In more than one practice he would kick me just to teach me how to defend myself.” 

As more fans laid eyes on him, his flair with the ball immediately entranced them. He has the ability to seemingly go past players as if they weren’t there, exquisite first touch, and one of the best left foot’s in the world. His speed allows him to drop deep to pick the ball up and lay off a pass, then dart in behind the opposing defense. Full backs do not want him bearing down on them 1v1.

Dybala powers home a volley with his wonderful left foot

With the unique understanding of a mediapunta from his days in Argentina, Dybala possesses unique passing qualities that separate him from other strikers. This allows him to fit into many different tactical systems. With dynamic movement and powerful runs, it is no wonder that every top team in Europe would love to have Dybala on their team.

With a successful top flight campaign under his belt, Palermo could no longer keep hold of their star forward. This time to one of the biggest clubs in Europe, and the biggest in Italy. He secured a move to Juventus and the rest is STARBOY history.

A STARBOY is Made

Dybala holds his Juventus jersey after signing with the Old Lady

The Old Lady had lost the core of its Champions League Final squad. Carlos Tevez returned to Boca Juniors, Arturo Vidal moved to Bayern Munich, and Pirlo embarked to NYCFC. .

Allegri found success with a 3-5-2 formation that saw them go on a run of 23 wins out of 24 games, a Serie A record. Often Dybala was employed at striker, but he would drop between the lines to pick the ball up and combine the midfield with attack of Mandzukic or Morata. His intelligence and movement allowed Juventus to possess the ball more efficiently while still maintaining his predatory instincts in front of goal.

Like many top teams in Europe, Juventus come up against defenses who defend deeply with ten men often behind the ball. One of the advantages of the 3-5-2 system employed by Allegri during the 15-16 season is that it allows Juventus to create overloads. Dybala is an integral part of creating an overload because his passing range allows the collection of the ball between the midfield of defensive lines where he can spray a pass and then dart into the penalty area.

In his first season with Juventus, he was able to fill the void left by Carlos Tevez. His average of 130 minutes per goal is better than that of Tevez and Del Piero had in their first seasons for the club. He finished the season with 23 goals in all competitions.

STARBOY Dybala poses with the trophy

It seemed that all Dybala was missing was a perfect strike partner to truly find his top form. Juventus purchased one of the best poachers in the world, Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli in the summer of 2016. Fans of the Old Lady were salivating at what a 3-5-2 would look like with Dybala and Higuain up top. 

However, as sometimes happens with young players, they struggle to adapt with new players. This was the case with Dybala as his performances dropped off. The sign of a truly good manager is tweaking formations and tactics to get the best out of each player. Allegri has tweaked his formation to a 4-2-3-1. With Higuain as the no. 10 and Dybala as a no. 9. This allows Dybala to play as a withdrawn forward, which seems to suit him best. Using his talents as a trequartista.

He has registered 7 goals and 4 assists this season. As Juventus look to chase their elusive third Champions League trophy, Dybala will be instrumental to the Old Lady’s plans.

Only true STARBOYS get to suit up for GQ mag and take the cover

Flexing his STARBOY power, Dybala shows that he is not only respected on the pitch, but in the fashion space as well. After he suited up for GQ, Dybala shows that he is not only respected by his peers on the pitch, but also in the fashion space off the pitch. 

In collaboration with fashion photographer Eric Guillemain, a lifestyle photoshoot that showed his true STARBOY prowess. Shot in the streets, Dybala shows off some great looks. 

Doning the ultimate STARBOY pose, Dybala adds a touch of class with a leather soccer ball

Posing with his signature number 21, Dybala shows everyone how a STARBOY wears a jacket with roses

Celebrating the same birthday as Rihanna, in true STARBOY fashion, Dybala is seen giving her a signed jersey. If Rihanna wants your jersey, you know our man is a STARBOY. 

Dybala posing with Rihanna as they celebrate sharing the same birthday.

In true STARBOY fashion, Dybala was seen with Rihanna celebrating her birthday. As Dybala posed for a picture with one of his signed Juventus jerseys, we think Rihanna may have just found a new favorite team and player. 

This is just the beginning for the Dybala. Watch and see what this STARBOY has in store.

Dybala points to the sky after scoring