Ronaldo in, Dybala out? How Pirlo's Juventus could line up next season

Paulo Dybala Andrea Pirlo Cristiano Ronaldo Juventus 2019-20 GFXGetty/Goal

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.

Juve would hardly be willing to let Dybala go on the cheap, of course, but they would accept an offer in the region of €100m (£90m/$118m) without hesitation.

The Bianconeri would also be tempted by any player-plus-cash offer from Real Madrid if it involved Isco, an attacking midfielder who Pirlo has expressed his admiration for in the past.


Obviously, it is not yet publicly known what Pirlo would like Juve to do with the money that they will definitely have available for signings.

He is well aware that they have deficiencies in midfield, but Goal has learned that there will be no attempt to hijack Inter's move for Sandro Tonali, so new arrival Arthur could be entrusted with the playmaking duties even if he is more accustomed to playing on the left-hand side of the midfield.

Aaron Ramsey's future remains undecided but Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa will both be made available for transfer, particularly as Dejan Kulusevski has already been acquired to add pace and penetration to the attack.

At the back, Daniele Rugani and Mattia De Sciglio are both set to depart, no matter what formation Pirlo elects to play.

The former playmaker has publicly professed his preference for a 4-3-3, but it seems he is not against experimenting with the three-man backline with which the Juve of his playing days enjoyed so much success.

Consequently, Atalanta wing-back Robin Gosens is being touted as a potential transfer target and there is even talk of full-backs Alex Sandro or Danilo being converted into outside centre-halves in a Pep Guardiola-like defence.

The absolute priority for now, though, is a new centre-forward and Arkadiusz Milik, Alexandre Lacazette and Raul Jimenez are all being considered.


Ultimately, it will come down to money. Milik, after all, will be available on a free transfer when his Napoli contract expires next summer so the timing may not be right, while Wolves would demand a colossal amount of money for Jimenez.

Lacazette could make the most sense, given Arsenal might be tempted by a deal involving someone like Costa, who has attracted plenty of Premier League interest in the past.

The onus, then, is on Juve to be creative and generate as much revenue as possible from selling the dead wood within an ageing and bloated squad.

Certainly, Dybala's future will be affected by outgoings.

It was always considered a given that the likes of Matuidi, Higuain and Khedira would be offloaded this summer, but few thought as the season drew to an end that Juve's top performer could also be touted around Europe. Least of all the player himself.

Of course, the one consolation would be that he would not have to go to the trouble of recording another goodbye video; he can just use last year's!

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