There had been speculations this summer about Paulo Dybala’s move to FC Barcelona. One of the most exciting young players in the world right now, Dybala captured headlines last season.
His two goals against Barcelona in Turin helped the Italians go through to the semifinals of the Champions League last season at Barca’s expense. His performances have even drawn comparisons with his compatriot and national team captain Lionel Messi.
"What I did last year no one expected and now everyone expects that I can do it again," said Dybala.
"It isn't easy because playing against a team like Barcelona in a stadium like this is very difficult."
Barcelona signed Dembele in the end – an ambidextrous player capable of using both his left and right foot. Dembele has playmaking qualities like Dybala but can play as a pure winger while the Argentine is more of a forward.
When Barcelona signed Dembele – his wing play must have been a decisive factor in the decision making process.
Dybala signed a new deal which will keep him in Turin till 2022 and he was handed the number 10 shirt at Juventus, even the chance to play regularly alongside Messi couldn't drag Dybala away from Turin.
However, Dybala’s argument maybe that he can already play with the best player in the world at the national team. He also would not have been handed the number 10 shirt at Barca.
"Luckily I have the chance to play with Messi in the national team.
"It is a privilege to have him as a teammate and for sure I can learn a lot from him.
"What might happen in the future I don't know, but I am very happy at Juventus."
It’s not difficult to envision two number 10’s playing in the same team. However, there is only one chief playmaker or the playmakers have their role modulated in some way to find balance. Barca are a team which have historically been built from players that are capable of playmaking.
Messi, Xavi and Iniesta have shown how several playmakers can co-exist in the same setup.
Xavi was a deep-organizing type playmaker driving the team forward while Iniesta was more attack-minded, capable of linking up with wingers and forwards – a fine balance where Messi could exist as a false nine.
Since Barcelona have been using Messi as a false nine again since the start of the season, perhaps it is more prudent that they opted for Dembele, who can preferably play as a winger and stretch the pitch for the Catalans.
Dybala meanwhile looks happy with his number 10 shirt.