I started following the Giallorossi promptly after the 2006 World Cup; at age nine, that World Cup (and that Azzurri win) pulled me into the world of non-American football and the player most responsible for that was our very own Francesco Totti. I read what I could find about him on the Internet; I continued my decades-long obsession with the Roman Empire, Latin, and mythology, and I added Totti to my personal pantheon. If I had been just a bit older, I probably would’ve been just as enchanted by one Gabriel Omar Batistuta, the Argentinian legend who came to Rome via Florence and helped propel my footballing icon to his first and only Scudetto win.
I’ve seen the highlight reels from Batistuta’s time in Rome, and they’re magical. I’ve seen footage of the hullaballoo that surrounded Batigol when he came to Rome, and it was clearly euphoric. In the twenty-two years since his record transfer to Roma, I don’t think any player has come close to recreating that particular form of ecstasy by signing at just the right moment, right at the peak of their career. Until now:
July 20, 2022
| Paulo Dybala— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) July 20, 2022
The club is delighted to confirm the signing of the world-renowned forward!
We also hope this video can help continue to raise awareness in the search for missing children all around the globe.
#ASRoma | @ICMEC_official pic.twitter.com/eb0TXYXamk
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you are undoubtedly aware that Paulo Dybala, La Joya himself, has decided to join Roma as a free agent. He immediately becomes one of the most purely talented players to sign with the Giallorossi, and his addition to the club’s forward retinue will undoubtedly help take José Mourinho’s attack to the next level. Dybala has reportedly signed a €4.5 million contract, with bonuses allowing that contract to grow to a cool €6 million; that makes him the top earner at the club, with Tammy Abraham and Lorenzo Pellegrini following close behind him.
As we discussed earlier, Dybala will not be taking on the #10 kit for the Giallorossi (at least not yet); instead, he will take the #21 kit, making sure that in combination with Nicolò Zaniolo’s #22, the Giallorossi gift shop will probably run out of 2s to print on the back of Roma kits faster than any other number. Speaking of Zaniolo, it is an open question how The Kid and The Jewel will fit into José Mourinho’s tactics alongside Tammy Abraham and Lorenzo Pellegrini. However, with reports suggesting that Zaniolo has been convinced to stick around Rome and will likely sign a renewal in September, Mourinho must have told Zaniolo something that has reassured him of his future in the starting eleven alongside Dybala.
This transfer undoubtedly puts the Giallorossi in the conversation for not only Champions League qualification but perhaps even third or second place in the league (no, I’m not going to jinx the Giallorossi’s shot at the S******* just yet, do you think I’m crazy?). Reports suggest that Mourinho used his phone call with Dybala to tell him that signing with Roma would give him a serious chance to win the Coppa Italia and the Europa League. Even ignoring league play, winning those two competitions has to be the goal for the Giallorossi next season. With the new season fast approaching, let’s hope that Tiago Pinto can bring in the necessary midfield reinforcements, cut the remaining dead weight from the squad, and get Roma one step closer to snatching every shred of glory it can over the next twelve months. Winning the UECL was nice, but with the signing of Paulo Dybala, it is clear that there are now much bigger fish to fry.
Here’s the official announcement of La Joya’s signing from the club website, with blurbs from Tiago Pinto and Dybala himself:
The club is delighted to be able to announce the signing of forward Paulo Dybala. Dybala, 28, has signed a three-year contract with AS Roma that runs until 30 June 2025.
“The days that have led up to me signing this contract have been filled with so many emotions,” Dybala said.
“The speed and determination with which Roma demonstrated just how much they wanted me made all the difference. I am joining a team that is on the up, a club that continues to put in place strong foundations for the future, and a coach, Jose Mourinho, that it will be a privilege to work with. As an opponent I have always admired the atmosphere created by the Roma fans – I now cannot wait for the chance to salute them while wearing this shirt.”
A five-time Serie A champion, Dybala began his career in his native Argentina with Instituto, before going on to represent both Palermo and Juventus in Italy. Alongside his league titles, he has also won the Coppa Italia on four occasions and the Italian Supercup a further three times. Dybala was named Serie A’s Most Valuable Player in 2020, and has been selected in the league’s Team of the Season on four separate occasions.
A full Argentina international, Dybala has made 34 appearances for the Albiceleste. The most recent of his three goals for his country came in June’s ‘Finalissima’ victory over Italy at Wembley Stadium. He has already joined up with his new teammates at the Giallorossi’s training camp in Portugal and will begin preparations for the new season this week.
“Paulo’s decision to join our project is a testament to the club’s credibility and a sign of the hard work that, all together, we are putting in to take Roma forward,” Tiago Pinto, the club’s General Manager, added. “Paulo is a world-renowned player who has won major trophies and gained global acclaim; he will bring that class with him to Roma and I am sure that, with him in the squad, we will be even stronger and more competitive.”
Dybala has opted to wear the No. 21 shirt for the club. Nemanja Matic, who originally selected the shirt number when he joined the Giallorossi last month, will switch to wear No. 8 instead. Dybala regularly wears the No. 21 shirt for the national team, while he also wore it during his first two seasons at Juventus.
Welcome to Roma, Paulo!
Now, if you don’t mind me, I’m going to be quietly celebrating from my desk for the next, oh, I don’t know, year? Forget the rest, we signed Dybala!