The rise and fall of Paulo Dybala from Lionel Messi’s successor and serial Serie A champion to Tottenham transfer target

PAULO DYBALA was once heralded as the next Lionel Messi.

Unfortunately for him, Messi had no intention of abdicating his crown as the king of Argentine football any time soon.

And now a stumbling career will see Dybala released by Juventus as a free agent this summer – with the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United the frontrunners to land him.

Yes, the 28-year-old has still enjoyed a largely successful career in Italy with five Serie A titles, four Coppa Italias and a Champions League final in seven seasons with Juventus.

But it certainly has fallen well short of the heights many expected – and Dybala hoped – it would hit.

Born in Laguna Larga in Cordoba, Argentina's second city, Dybala's surname links back to his grandfather Boleslaw Dybala, a Pole who fled his homeland during World War II and settled in South America.

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But it was the side of his mother he followed by ending up in Italy – with his great-grandmother from Naples.

He earned a move to Palermo after nine years with Instituto in his home city.

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Dybala joined the club's academy aged ten in 2003 and made his professional debut for the first team at 17.

His record-breaking prowess – as the youngest goalscorer, playing 38 consecutive league games, hitting two hat-tricks in the same season AND scoring in six straight matches – quickly earned him plenty of attention in Argentina.

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