Paulo Dybala has been linked with moves to both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur this summer. However, the diminutive Argentine hasn’t had the best of seasons at Juventus. This is leading some to ask whether he is simply out of form, and the class he has shown in the past will soon return.
“Form is temporary, class is permanent”– every sunday league coach you ever played for
“You are only as good as your last game”– a football pundit who deals exclusively in cliche’s
There are two expressions that you hear bandied about in football which people like to pass as conventional wisdom to support whichever stance they are taking today.
Which will be true of Dybala though?
Paulo Dybala Permanently Class: Finishing
There are five seasons above of Serie A data for Dybala. If we think about this in terms of variance, averages and outliers – you would expect him to be averaging about 3.5 shots per 90 and last season was some way below that.
His 48% conversion of shots on target is also a big outlier and likely unsustainable. Although his 21% from last season is just as big an outlier. Somewhere in the middle feels fair based on his other numbers from previous seasons.
His averages sit at exactly 1/3 of his shots on target and ~1/3 of those are converted. He has averaged ~0.4 goals per 90 over the past 5 seasons – so a goal every 2.5 games.
He doesn’t have a very high match load per season, with an average of 26.7 games per season. Assuming he plays the average of 2403 minutes (or 26.7 90s) for United (or Juve, if he stays) this season – he would be reasonably expected to get 10.8 goals.
These are non-penalty numbers, so if he is the club’s main penalty taker, you can beef his numbers up. Of course, goalscoring is just one aspect of the job. Here are his creation numbers over 5 years.
Paulo Dybala Permanently Class: Creativity
We can see that maybe earlier in his career, when his focus/role was more creative than scoring, he would create 10 big chances per season. Roughly one in every 6.5 chances was a big pass. However, in recent seasons as he tries into more as a scorer, his creative numbers have somewhat tanked.
He has only created 2 big chances in each of his last 2 seasons and now average a big chance every 26 chances created in those years. Overall, he looks likely to get 7 assists in our average minutes load season of 26.7 games mentioned above.
However, that average is spread between him playing varying roles. It seems likely it will be either/or with Dybala in terms of being a high output creative player expected to get ~10 goals and ~10 assists, or a high out goalscorer capable of getting ~15 goals and a few assists.
Paulo Dybala Permanently Class: In Summary
He is clearly a far better player than he showed in 2018/19 and if you build an attack around him, he will likely flourish (assuming he adapts to the Premier League, some players simply don’t). However, can he hit & sustain 2017/18 heights?
Dybala is entering his peak years and with a system built around his strengths where he sees more of the ball in better positions and is allowed to stay higher up the pitch rather than tracking full-backs up and down the pitch off the ball – who knows where his numbers could end up.
He isn’t someone that looks to run in behind or stretch play as a 9 would. He wants to come off the line more and find pockets of space, particularly in that right half-space.
But arguably that is ideal for United because in the likes of Rashford and Martial, that movement is already there to stretch teams vertically with pace. So a player who will look to exploit spaces in front of the defence when it drops off to track those runs could work very well.
We created this article from a thread on Twitter. For this reason, it may not read the way our articles normally would. The character limit of twitter defined paragraph length and forced the use of abbreviations.
Click here to read the original thread on twitter dated 31 July 2019.
A glossary of all the terms used in this article and throughout the site as a whole is available here. Also, click on any image in the article for full-size high definition version.
All data used in our articles is sourced from Understat, FBRef, Sofascore, Transfermarkt and 538.