It was a cold January night in Turin. The (few) Juventus fans in attendance were waiting for a goal that would warm the atmosphere.
At the 19th minute, their wish was granted. Paulo Dybala broke the deadlock against Udinese with a clinical finish in front of goal.
But suddenly, the freezing atmosphere became even colder due to an unusual celebration.
There was no warrior mask this time, no exaltation, not even a shy smile, but only a long and awkward stare towards the VIP stand, where the top directors take their seats to watch matches.
So what was behind this sinister “celebration”?
“I invited a friend and couldn’t see him. There are many people up there watching and I couldn’t find him,” the Argentine responded cheekily.
So should we buy his response? “I don’t know, that’s up to you. There have been a lot of stories, and many things happened that I prefer not to talk about.
“I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I am at the disposal of the coach and the club. My contract? The club said we’ll talk about it in February.”
We all know the story by now. Dybala and the Juventus management had an agreement in principle to renew the player’s expiring contract since October, but it now appears than the board wants to review the terms in a new round of negotiations in February, where Maurizio Arrivabene and company will be opting to lower their initial offer.
So the imaginary friend story aside, the striker appears to be angry with the management, and rightfully so.
Whether you believe that the former Palermo star deserves to earn the figures that he’s seeking is a separate matter.
The main point in here is the (reported) fact that the directors have retracted on their word, which paints the club is a horrible light.
How can these people be trusted if they have indeed broken their promise for a player who represents the heart and soul of this club?
Moreover, Arrivabene’s recent statement only made matters worse by suggesting that the player needs to work harder to prove his worth for the club.
This season, La Joya has been running his socks off from for Juventus – scoring goals, delivering assists, dropping back to initiate plays and even lend a hand for his teammates in defense.
Perhaps his injury record remains the most worrying aspect in the whole equation, but that’s not exactly his fault.
So let’s imagine for a second that Dybala ends up walking away for free by the end of the season. Thinking that we can sign a better replacement in the summer would be a delusional thought.
If the Bianconeri are willing to run the risk of losing their biggest creative force just so they can save few millions, would anyone expect this club to splash the cash to sign a world class star and offer him a befitting salary?
If the number ten leaves Juventus, then the Old Lady will be left with another major gap to fill – as if we don’t have enough already.
So while Dybala’s “friend” may have gone missing on Saturday, it’s Andrea Agnelli and company who have been lost for quite some time.