Fallen-from-grace Argentine striker Paulo Dybala added some spice to his ongoing contract row with Juventus on Sunday, after the Bianconeri's victory over Genoa's Grifoni by three goals to one.
The attacker, hours after scoring his first Serie A goal in five months went on to criticize media about allegedly inflaming his contract situation, and bemoaned his club's inaction on the matter.
"My agent stayed in Turin for a long time but was never called. There's talk of numbers [regarding his renewal], but none of them are true. This is how fans are turned against me, I do few interviews, when they let me talk I do it and I always try to tell the truth".
Truthfully, rumours speculated that Dybala and his agent, Jorge Antun, made demands of €15m per season, while respectable sources stayed quiet on this point.
"My future? I love Juventus. I've always said it, I never speak but when they say things that are not true they make me angry, they say these things because they want to turn me against the fans", continued the Argentine attacker.
The very next day, Juventus president Andrea Agnelli was asked about Dybala's statements fires back:
“I heard with great pleasure Dybala's love for Juve. We see him as the next Juventus captain, he often has the captain's armband on his arm. It appears to me that he was already offered a contract that would place him among Europe's top 20 highest paid players. His love is reciprocated, both sentimentally and with strong gratitude. We are waiting for his response, but the most important thing is that he responds on the pitch. All parties wish that he finish in the top 5. At the moment he is not in the top 5 and he knows that".
Prior to the Atalanta game, Juventus' CFO Fabio Paratici said he will meet Dybala's representative "soon".
For now, however, Juventus' position seems clear: the offer will not improve. The proposal, however, was made before Dybala was proclaimed Serie A's 2019-20 Most Valuable Player in July 2020 and did not meet the Argentine's expectations.
This begs the question: what exactly was Jorge Antun doing in Turin for weeks on end? Visiting the Mole Antonelliana and the city's famed Egyptian Museum? Something doesn't add up.
1. Dybala Free Transferred
A solution, of course would be for the attacker to leave upon the expiry of his contract in June 2022.
A bitter divorce, with Dybala sidelined or, worse yet, relegated outside of the squad would see him miss key playing time at an important juncture of his career.
With a World Cup looming and plenty of competition in the Argentinian national team, this is an unlikely scenario.
Equally unlikely that Juventus will be okay with parting with a big asset like Dybala for nothing.
This scenario can be discarded.
2. Dybala Transferred in 2021
Perhaps Antun's tourist experience in Turin was not due to Paulo's unhappiness with the offer in terms of remuneration, rather in terms of his role on the team.
It must be noted that since Ronaldo's arrival, things haven't been smooth sailing for the Argentine.
Whether Dybala is not convinced about remuneration or role, he may decide to leave in January or July 2021 and look to integrate into a new team, make an impression, and play his last World Cup in 2022 (at 29) as a protagonist.
Juventus, on the other hand, may be looking to move Dybala and cash in while they can before the situation becomes more cumbersome, which would make the player lose even more value.
Fantasy-style rumours have recently surfaced about the possibility of former Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba making his way back to Turin, while the Bianconeri would leverage a trade route that would have sent Dybala to Manchester, with Lukaku going the other way in the summer of 2019.
3. Dybala Renews
There is, of course, a happy ending scenario to a thorny story that would see Juventus and the player find a middle ground and extend his contract until 2024 or 2025, when Dybala will turn 30 or 31.
This, of course, would not preclude the striker from being sold before the end of that extended contract, but it would buy Juventus some "insurance" on Dybala's price.
When one has no power, one takes their time. Dybala now has to bide his time, dig deep, and perform.
Only then he can make a business case for an improved offer. Agnelli himself said it that his ambition is to be the top 5, but his performances are not matching his salary ambition.
Therefore, Dybala will step away from the table, and postpone talks until his performances match that.
Juve's interest, on the other hand, are to pressure the player to re-sign for a longer contact at a "lower" salary than he wishes.
Dybala's comments in Genoa were an unsuccessful attempt at quieting the issue. Rather, it produced the opposite effect and it surely didn’t make the club happy. Maybe it is no coincidence Andrea Pirlo threw him in only for the last ten minutes against Atalanta on Wednesday.
A renewal, for now, remains the most likely solution. For this to take place, however, for his good and that of the club, he needs to find his form again - starting with the remaining seven games of Serie A's opening round.