Whoa, there’s a new player on Tottenham Hotspur’s transfer shortlist. Multiple sources, including Dan Kilpatrick in the Evening Standard, are now reporting that Tottenham have made an official inquiry to Juventus concerning forward Paulo Dybala. The Argentine is highly regarded by Mauricio Pochettino, but signing him would smash Spurs’ transfer record for the second time this summer, as he is rated at £80m by Juventus.
Paulo Dybala, Juventus 18-19.— StatsBomb (@StatsBomb) February 7, 2019
Shot volume down quite a bit from last year, but creative passing is up. Model thinks he's a genuinely great passer and probably a good long range shooter as well (But not as good as last season, because last season was silly.) pic.twitter.com/OtpjBAaYxP
If there is a player who was most hurt by the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus last season, it’s Dybala. Once considered one of the hottest young forwards in world football — he had 26 goals and 7 assists in 3300 minutes during 2017-18 — his production cooled off significantly last year, scoring just 10 goals and looking increasingly unhappy in Turin. It didn’t help that he was largely marginalized in Argentina’s World Cup team two summers ago, which reportedly hurt his feelings.
That’s not to say that he’s damaged goods, though he was pretty far from good last season at Juventus. In fact, a recent-ish article on Statsbomb makes note of Dybala’s passing and shooting ability, even as it wonders if he needs to leave the Old Lady to resurrect his career and get out of CR7’s shadow. He took a decided downtick in form last season, but there’s still a potential global superstar in there. Spurs signing him would be a high profile gamble, but probably one worth taking, if a deal can be reached and the price is right.
Tottenham’s interest in Dybala is undoubtedly exciting, but raises some major questions about their transfer plans with only a couple of weeks left in the window. Does it mean that Danny Rose, who has been the subject of reported interest from Juventus, could be used as a makeweight in a Dybala transfer? What does this interest mean for the future of Christian Eriksen? And it’s not like Dybala is a position that Spurs really need to upgrade, when they could definitely use another good central midfielder. Surely, SURELY Tottenham couldn’t afford to purchase both Dybala and Giovani Lo Celso?
And that last bit is causing some speculation. Some, including several in the Carty Free writers room, have suggested that Daniel Levy speaking to Juventus is as much about Real Betis and Lo Celso as it is about Dybala. It’s well known that the deal for Lo Celso is stagnated somewhat due to Betis holding out for a very high transfer fee, despite the player wanting to come to Tottenham and Spurs being the only interested party. Making googly-eyes towards Dybala could be as much about Levy throwing his weight around and getting Betis to blink as it is about signing Dybala.
There’s also this question: if Dybala is rated at £80m and Tottenham can afford him, then why in the world have we not come closer to Betis’ valuation of Lo Celso? Why isn’t he in London this very minute doing a medical? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
But if Dybala is a stalking horse, that’s one friggin’ huge stalking horse. Dybala is a fine player and he would be a very good addition to Spurs — the idea of Harry Kane partnering with Dybala is enough to make Spurs fans’ mouths salivate a little, even if Dybala is coming off of a disappointing season. And make no mistake, Dybala would still be second fiddle to Harry Kane... or at least Striker 1a to Kane’s Striker 1. Dybala’s positional flexibility would also be useful as he can be deployed as a #10 and on the flank, but he’s not the same kind of player as Lo Celso. It’s not apples to apples here.
Daniel Levy isn’t the kind of manager who will speak to the media to further transfer negotiations like Lyon’s Jean-Michel Aulas, but he’s no dummy. Publicly making contact with a young, notably Argentine, potential superstar like Dybala is one way that he can turn the screws on Betis and let them know that they won’t wait around forever. A Dybala transfer would be difficult to complete, but not impossible. I’m willing to guess that this Levy casually showing one of the cards in his hand and seeing whether Betis will fold.
We’re a long, LONG way from saying that this is even conceivable, much less possible. However, let this sink in for a second: Tottenham Hotspur are now a club that can display an audacious interest in one of the best young forwards in the world, and it doesn’t even seem THAT unusual. How far they’ve come!