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Paulo Dybala's goal celebration is basically a brand, a routine that is recognized all over the world. The "Dybala mask" is one of the most iconic images in Serie A with two fingers of the right hand raised, coming close to his nose, just below the eyes. On Saturday night against Udinese Dybala scored the first goal of the evening in a game that Juventus would go on to win 2-0 (the match, along with all Serie A matches, aired on Paramount+). The fans were waiting for his celebration, as always. Dybala, on the other hand, stopped his usual run and turned towards the center of the pitch. There was no "Dybala mask" this time, instead he did something else. Dybala turned his face to the VIP stand where Juventus CEO Maurizio Arrivabene and vice-president Pavel Nedved often sit, and looked at them defiantly. 

How the relationship between Dybala and Juventus broke down

Dybala's current deal was signed in April 2017 and will expire this summer. Talks about a renewal began way back before the start of the first COVID-19 outbreak in 2019, when former Juventus Sporting Director, Fabio Paratici was in charge. Things progressed further more recently with negotiations taking place between Paratici's successor, Federico Cherubini and Dybala's agent, Jorge Antun. It was a complicated negotiation, but it seemed to have finally born fruit last November, when both sides seemed to finally agree to a five-year contract worth €10 million per season, including add-ons. It was supposed to be signed before January, but before that could happen, Dybala, who has been injury prone over the course of his career, picked up another knock. He missed four games between November and December.

In the meantime, Juventus CEO Maurizio Arrivabene had strong words before the Supercoppa game against Inter Milan about him. "Whoever wears our number ten must realize the weight that this number has for us," he said. The team asked Dybala and his agent to wait until February to discuss his contract situation again. The request caught Dybala by surprise, he'd been ready to sign his new deal for weeks. 

Right after Juventus lost the Supercoppa against Inter Milan, the well informed Argentinian journalist Cesar Luis Merlo broke the story that Paulo Dybala has decided not to renew the contract with Juventus. According to him, Dybala will leave the club at the end of the season if nothing changes in the next weeks. According to Sky Sport Italy, the numbers that Juventus are proposing are also changing. What's clear is that both sides need to meet again and renegotiate, a fact which Dybala more or less confirmed in the post-match interview after beating Udinese: "There has been a lot of noise, a lot of things have happened and I prefer not to talk about it. I have nothing to prove to anyone. The club has decided that we will talk in February or March", he said to DAZN. 

Where do Dybala and Juventus go from here? 

When Paulo joined Juventus in the summer 2015 he was immediately loved by the fans. They considered him the natural successor to Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero. In fact, after two seasons manager Massimiliano Allegri (then in his first stint with the team) and the club decided to give him the prestigious number ten jersey. And as recently as the first match of this seaosn, Dybala was handed the captain's armband, another sign of how his role in the dressing room has been crucial in recent times. Obviously, everything has changed now. After Juventus' request that he wait, doubt, and even panic was introduced into a situation that many had considered all but resolve. It divided the fans. Some did not appreciate Dybala's gesture against Udinese, while others are on the player's side. It's likely that now in order the reach a new agreement someone will have cave, at least a little bit. The player may have to lower his demands, but this seem unlikely at the moment. 

It's a certainty that if talks collapse there will be other top European clubs ready to offer wages similar to what Dybala is asking for. In the past there have been talks with Premier League clubs such as Manchester United and Tottenham. And given that Spurs new boss is the very same Paratici who initially opened talks with Dybala (and who also initially purchased him for Juventus from Palermo in 2015), it seems likely that Spurs would at least strongly considering paying what the Argentine is asking. 

Inter Milan will also likely be involved in the race. Nerazzurri's CEO Beppe Marotta told DAZN on Sunday, "When a player of the level of Dybala approaches the end of a contract it is normal for him to be linked to big clubs like ours. We must try with everyone, but at the moment we are satisfied and we respect these strikers who are giving us great satisfaction." These words suggest that an approach will be made in the coming weeks, as they bide their time to get a better understanding of where Dybala stands. Among other things, Inter Milan were very close to buying Paulo Dybala before he joined Juventus in the summer 2015, as revealed by Italy National Team coach Roberto Mancini: "We were one step away from finalizing a deal with Palermo. Then Inter Milan waited for too long, and Juventus were fast enough to change his mind," he said during an interview to Corriere dello Sport in 2017. 

Inter Milan and Spurs won't be the only interested clubs, of course, but for now everything depends on what Dybala wants and what Juventus remains willing to pay. While a few weeks ago the renewal of the contract seemed to be just a matter of time, now anything is possible. With the current agreement expiring in five months, it definitely is a worrying situation for the Bianconeri fans.