The Juventus head coach has talked up his South American forward ahead of a Serie A showdown with Inter, with questions being asked of his form
Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri believes Paulo Dybala has the potential to be a Ballon d’Or winner following recent criticism of the forward’s form.
Argentina international Dybala was Juve’s top scorer on the way to the Scudetto last season, with 19 goals in 34 Serie A appearances.
Form and fitness woes have left him short of that level this time around and he caused a stir by refusing to shake Allegri’s hand after being substituted during the second half of last weekend’s 2-0 win at Sassuolo.
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Juventus host rivals Inter in the Derby d’Italia on Sunday, where Dybala is set to start with national team boss Edgardo Bauza looking on from the stands.
In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Bauza labelled comparisons between the 23-year-old and a young Lionel Messi as unhelpful, but Allegri believes his player can one day reach the rarefied heights of the Barcelona superstar.
“Dybala was injured for two months but has played himself back into form and fitness,” he told a pre-match news conference.
.@OfficialAllegri: “@PauDybala_JR has played himself back into form and fitness. He has the quality to win the Ballon d’Or one day.” pic.twitter.com/x1KURwYvrJ
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) February 4, 2017
“As it’s his second year [at Juventus], people expect more from him. That’s the burden of being a great player.
“He has the quality to win the Ballon d’Or one day.”
Juve lost 2-1 in the reverse fixture at San Siro, one of the few high points of Frank de Boer’s brief Inter reign, but Allegri will not enter the contest against Stefano Pioli’s side with revenge in mind.
“Tomorrow is a big game, one that is wonderful for us and them to play in,” he said.
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“These are two squads who are capable of winning the Scudetto. Fortunately Inter had a rough start and we have the advantage in the table, but the potential of the sides is very similar.
“It will be a game at a very high level of technique and that is good for Italian football.
“Our last game with Inter was very strange, as we were distracted on the goals, but these points are worth the same as against Crotone, so we need to be ready and play the same way against any opponent.”
Midfielder Claudio Marchisio will be available once more for Juventus, but defender Andrea Barzagli is a doubt having missed training on Saturday through illness.