Revived Dybala key player for Juventus

TURIN • On the verge of being sold to Manchester United last summer, Paulo Dybala is once again Juventus' talisman as the newly crowned Italian champions race to get him ready for their Champions League showdown with Lyon today.

This time last year, the Argentina forward looked to be the counterweight in Romelu Lukaku's transfer to Inter Milan, but has since re-established himself as the fulcrum of Juve's attack alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, scoring 16 goals in all competitions and setting up 14 more.

His form led to him being crowned the best player in Serie A on Tuesday ahead of Ronaldo and European Golden Shoe winner Ciro Immobile of Lazio.

And now Dybala is reportedly on the verge of a new five-year deal with Juve, a remarkable turnaround from what at one point seemed a near-certain departure.

The Italian champions are feverishly trying to help the 26-year-old recover from a thigh injury picked up en route to winning their ninth straight Scudetto in the hope he can start against Lyon, who hold a 1-0 lead ahead of the second leg of their last-16 tie.

Despite winning the league with two matches to spare, Juve's form at the end of the campaign has raised concerns. They finished the domestic campaign with just two wins and four defeats in their final eight matches, but their opponents today are not reading too much into those results.

Lyon coach Rudi Garcia, whose side have only played one competitive match since March due to the early axing of the French league, said: "It's true that a team playing every three days will be tired and have injuries. But the fact that Juventus have won something before allows them to recover."

Garcia will be able to count on Dutch forward Memphis Depay, who has returned to full fitness after suffering a knee injury in December.

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JUVENTUS V LYON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2020, with the headline 'Revived Dybala key player for Juventus'. Print Edition | Subscribe