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'Unbelievable!' - Dybala's Juventus exit has saddened supporters but is the right call for the club

When Paulo Dybala's imminent Juventus exit was confirmed on Monday, his brother Gustavo took to social media to post a solitary word: "Unbelievable."

In truth, though, it was anything but.

This parting of the ways had been coming. The more this particular transfer saga dragged on, the more likely it was to end in Dybala's departure.

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Granted, many Bianconeri fans were still left in a state of shock by the news that one of their favourite players, a man who truly loved plying his trade in Turin, will leave when his current contract expires this summer.

They had hoped to see him finish his top-flight career at Juve, but that was very much a case of the heart ruling the head.

A new deal had been agreed last October, of course. All that was missing was Dybala's signature.

But Juve came to realise that it was an agreement that made no sense, neither from a business nor a sporting perspective.

Indeed, when it emerged that the Bianconeri were willing to give the Argentina international a new, five-year deal worth €10 million (€8m plus €2m in bonuses) per annum, there was widespread disbelief.

It was a colossal amount of cash for an injury-prone 28-year-old, particularly in the current economic climate. 

Dybala fans were optimistic that a historic €400m (£335m/$450m) capital investment from Juve's parent company, EXOR, in December might make it easier to justify such an outlay.

But the money merely focused minds at Juve. 

EXOR's intervention was needed to both balance the books and make a significant investment in an unbalanced and underperforming squad.

A big decision needed to be made then: who did Juve really want to build a team around?

And ultimately, it was a no-brainer.

With Fiorentina desperate to cash in on wantaway striker Dusan Vlahovic, Juve were presented with a perfect opportunity to sign a potential generational talent that could spearhead their attack for the rest of the decade.

There is no guarantee, of course, that Vlahovic will continue to score as freely in Turin as he did in Florence, but then there was no guarantee either that Dybala's muscular issues would suddenly go away.

Juve looked at Vlahovic and saw a bright future. By contrast, when they looked at Dybala, they just could not see past his injury woes.

Ultimately, spending €75m (£63m/$85m) on the kind of prolific No.9 the team was crying out for made far more sense than committing €92.5m (£79m/$104m) in gross wages to keeping player that has rarely proven a perfect tactical fit in Turin.

The Dybala renewal money can now be invested in a younger, fitter replacement, or the team's long-term problem position: midfield.

As Maurizio Arrivabene told Sky Sport Italia, "With the arrival of Vlahovic, the technical aspect, the team, the project changed....

"Nobody questioned Paulo's technical value, but there were considerations that had to be made on the length of the contract, and other economic factors...

"The decision has been taken, we thought about it a lot but I want to underline one thing: the Juve board does not take decisions against Juventus, but for Juventus."

Paulo Dybala Dusan Vlahovic Juventus 2021-22 GFXGetty

The message was clear: the Bianconeri did not believe even offering Dybala a smaller salary would have been in the best interests of the club.

Indeed, according to the Corriere dello Sport and La Repubblica, Juve director Federico Cherubini told the striker's agent, Jorge Antun, after Monday's two-hour meeting, "It's pointless to see each other again. We don't have any interest in keeping him." Under any circumstance, essentially.

Arrivabene pointed out, "Paulo's position was no longer central to the project," so they did not even consider keeping him on his old terms (€7m a season); they just withdrew the offer completely.

It may have come across cold, particularly in relation to someone who has served Juve well over the past seven years, but it was undeniably the right call from a man nicknamed 'Iron Mau'.

Juve are certainly losing a quality player. Nobody has scored more Serie A goals (eight) or racked up more assists (five) for the Bianconeri this season, which is impressive given has only featured in 21 games.

But those are hardly impressive numbers in the grand scheme of things, and that appearance tally is the most significant statistic anyway, as it is a reflection of his incessant fitness problems, with Dybala having been sidelined on five separate occasions in 2021-22 with muscular issues.

What happens now, of course, will be fascinating.

The Juve-Dybala divorce has been confirmed, yet they have to stay together for another two months.

Coach Massimiliano Allegri has always had something of a soft spot for the Argentine, but he will not be looking forward to regularly answering questions about Dybala's exit, and whether he had any say in the club's decision.

It will also be interesting to see if Dybala comments on the matter, and whether it affects his performances.

It has been clear since January that he has been upset by some of the comments Juve's directors have made to the media about the contract talks – and those made by Arrivabene, in particular.

Indeed, Dybala even refused to celebrate after netting against Udinese two months ago, preferring instead to glare at the directors' box as he returned to his half.

When asked about his reaction afterwards, he infamously stated, "I was looking for a friend but I couldn't see him."

Dybala, then, is likely to be both hurt and annoyed by how this has played out.

He has always felt deeply honoured to wear Juve's iconic No.10 shirt and was deeply upset by the claim made by Arrivabene in December that he still had to prove his commitment to the cause, with the suggestion being that he was more loyal to his agent than the club.

Remember, Juve had tried to sell Dybala to Manchester United in 2019 in order to secure the services of Romelu Lukaku, and he had even recorded a goodbye video for the fans in which he broke down in tears, so upset was he by the prospect of leaving his beloved Bianconeri.

In the end, he refused to move to Old Trafford, and while a proposed transfer to Tottenham later in the same summer window collapsed primarily because of issues related to image rights, Dybala still did not want to leave. 

His priority has always been to remain in Turin, but there is no way back now; there will be no dramatic turnaround this time.

Juve have made that painfully clear to Dybala and his supporters, meaning this will be a long, slow break-up, much like Alessandro Del Piero's acrimonious departure in 2012.

Dybala did not quite hit the same heights as the Italian icon, but the fans will certainly have plenty of fond memories of an often thrilling talent with a wondrous left foot who has, to date, scored 113 times in all competitions for Juve. 

There will also be some recriminations over how the confirmation of his exit has been handled. 

However, while the idea of a Juve without Dybala may still seem unbelievable to some supporters, the harsh reality is that it is the right time to say goodbye.