With five goals and two assists in only 581 Serie A minutes, Paulo Dybala has been Roma's most instrumental and influential attacking player. And you probably don't need me to remind you that he hasn't even played since October 9th against Lecce, in which La Joya scored a match-winning penalty—one of three goals he scored that week alone.
Despite all the back-and-forth transfer speculation, the will-he-or-won't-he drama, and an unveiling for the ages, Paulo Dybala did the impossible earlier this season: he exceeded the hype. In his first handful of matches with Roma, we saw the entire Dybala package: the clever dribbling, the close control, the creativity, the tactical intelligence, and that magical left foot. When Dybala was on the pitch, Roma was always in the game.
So when Dybala left that Lecce match with a left leg injury, one that immediately led José Mourinho to declare that we wouldn't see Dybala for the remainder of 2022, Roma fans were naturally depressed. Dybala had a history of minor muscle issues, so while there was nothing catastrophic about this particular injury, it didn't bode well for the club's short-term chances.
Paulo Dybala is arguably the most talented player to wear this shirt since Francesco Totti, so there was no taking the sting out of this injury. As we used to say with Totti, Dybala was not just the straw that stirred the drink; he was the drink itself. And in his absence, Roma's attack has sputtered, mustering only six goals—including one penalty—in five league matches without Dybala. The black-and-white numbers in the Europa League look slightly better (six goals in three games), but half of that offensive output was aided by own goals and penalty strikes.
Given how impressive he's been and how important he is to Roma's success (and yes, how injury prone he's been lately), Dybala playing in the World Cup wasn't necessarily an exciting prospect for Roma fans.
But what was once academic is now confirmed—Paulo Dybala is going to the World Cup in Qatar next week.
As you can see, Dybala made Argentina's final 26-man roster for the World Cup, joining Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria, and Lautaro Martínez, among many others, to form one of the tournament's prohibitive favorites. While this is thrilling news for Dybala, Roma fans will be understandably nervous as La Joya looks to conquer the world over the next few weeks.