UEFA.com continues its weekly wonderkid feature by looking at US Città di Palermo's Paulo Dybala, a 21-year-old marksman reportedly on Juventus's radar.
Name: Paulo Dybala
Club: US Città di Palermo
Serie A debut: 3 September 2012 v SS Lazio
Date of birth: 15/11/1993
Preferred foot: left
They say …
"He's part Lionel Messi, part Vincenzo Montella – entirely world-class."
Maurizio Zamparini, Palermo president
"He's had a great season and continues to work hard to improve. He has all the credentials to aim for a future at a top club."
Giuseppe Iachini, Palermo coach
"Dybala is a quality player, he's young but I think he'll become a top-class forward."
Roberto Mancini, FC Internazionale Milano coach
Born in Laguna Larga, Argentina, the striker started his career at home-town club Instituto AC Córdoba. At 15, he lost his father and began to sleep in their facilities, earning the nickname 'el pibe de la pensión' – the boy of the guesthouse.
Dybala made his professional debut at 17 and quickly became Córdoba’s youngest-ever goalscorer – surpassing the record held by Argentina great and FIFA World Cup winner Mario Kempes. Was dubbed 'La Joya' (the Jewel) after his maiden season with the second-tier side yielded 17 goals in 38 outings. Secured a move to Sicilian outfit Palermo in 2012.
Playing style …
A mobile modern forward, Dybala is blessed with pace while his close-control, exquisite technique and slalom dribbles create openings – usually dispatched via his powerful left foot.
Shades of …
Is frequently likened to compatriot Lionel Messi. However, Uruguay ace Diego Forlán has compared him to Sergio Agüero, whereas former Palermo midfielder Enzo Maresca insists Dybala reminds him of Vincenzo Montella.
Eureka moment …
Dybala struck three times during a disappointing first term in Italy as Palermo were relegated. The Rosanero gained promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt, though the youngster registered only five times in 28 appearances.
Unbowed, the Argentinian made a spectacular start to the current campaign. A five-match scoring streak in November positioned Dybala among Serie A's leading marksmen – and alongside the Albiceleste's finest in Italy, Carlos Tévez and Gonzalo Higuaín. His present return of 13 goals and ten assists from 33 games prompted La Gazzetta dello Sport to write: "He is King Midas."
Best-case scenario …
With top clubs including Juventus, Inter and AS Roma said to be vying for his signature, Palermo are keen to cash in on their 21-year-old asset after he turned down a three-year contract extension in January. A summer move looks likely.
Dybala – who has Italian citizenship – recently rejected Antonio Conte's invitation to play for the Azzurri. "My dream is to play for Argentina because I feel Argentinian," he explained.
He says …
"When I will leave Palermo, I will miss the sea and the fish – but mostly the many friends I have made during my time here. However, playing in the UEFA Champions League is every player's dream, and mine too, I can't deny it."
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