Juventus chiefs have earmarked Paulo Dybala as Cristiano Ronaldo’s ready-made replacement, according to reports. The Argentine forward has played every minute for the Serie A giants this season but is currently facing an uncertain future in Turin.
He was selected to start Juventus’ defeat at the hands of Empoli on Saturday in the club’s first game since Ronaldo rejoined Manchester United in a sensational move back to the Premier League.
The mercurial 36-year-old signed a two-year deal with the Red Devils and is expected to make his second debut against Newcastle United after the international break.
His departure has left a significant hole in attack at Juventus, with Ronaldo scoring 101 goals for the club during his three-year spell in Italy.
Dybala has been identified by club chiefs as the Portuguese marksman’s replacement, but their lack of progress over a new deal has failed to resolve his immediate future, according to Calciomercato.
The report claims that Dybala is keen to fill the void left by Ronaldo’s departure but is stalling over extending his stay at Juventus.
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The Old Lady are said to have offered a lower salary than the wage tabled last summer, with the player holding out for around £10.3million per year.
This figure is reportedly close to Matthijs De Ligt’s annual pay packet that was agreed by the Dutchman back in 2019.
However, given the financial problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Juventus could struggle to meet Dybala’s demands.
He is understood to be willing to commit to Juventus on a long-term basis until 2025 or 2026, but is adamant that he should be given a deal reflecting his importance to the side.
It remains to be seen whether the club will be able to retain their prized asset between now and next summer, when he will become a free agent as things stand.
Dybala will be able to negotiate a free transfer to a non-Italian club from January, with Juventus facing a race against time to keep him at the Allianz Stadium.
He was linked with Tottenham during the summer window, but a pre-season move to north London ultimately failed to come to fruition.
The versatile forward has scored 101 goals in 256 appearances for Juventus since joining the club from Palermo in 2016.
He was recently named in the Argentina squad for this month’s fixtures against Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia after a lengthy absence from the national team picture.
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Dybala’s contract stand-off has been raging on behind the scenes at Juventus for some time, with the man himself hitting back at his critics in December of last year.
“We talked a lot about my contract and said a lot of false things,” Dybala told reporters when quizzed on the situation.
“People talk about things they don’t know. My agent has been in Turin for a long time and he doesn’t ‘was not called’.
“I don’t like it when it comes to money and figures that are invented. I never talked about money and I never talk about it.
“Talking about money in this period pits everyone against me, with all the love I have for Juventus.
“I give few interviews and when given the opportunity to speak I always try to tell the truth.”