Long hailed as the heir to national teammate Lionel Messi, the 23-year-old is one of the leading strikers in domestic league action.
Juventus’s deadliest weapon Paulo Dybala warned “everything is going my way” as the rising Argentine star turns his focus to Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Greek champions Olympiakos.
Long hailed as the heir to national teammate Lionel Messi, the 23-year-old is one of the leading strikers in domestic league action across Europe bagging ten goals — including two hat-tricks — in six Serie A games.
“At the moment everything is going my way, and we’re still at the start, I hope to continue like this,” said the player dubbed ‘The Jewel’ who arrived in Turin from Palermo in 2015.
“I’m in a period of great confidence. I’ve changed mentally, I want to grow and improve to go as far as possible.”
Against Olympiakos he will look to open his tally in Europe after scoring 12 goals in eight games this season but failing to find the net as Juventus fell 3-0 to Messi’s Barcelona in their curtain raiser.
His style of play has changed this season with coach Massimiliano Allegri giving the livewire forward freedom to follow his instincts in the number 10 jersey worn by club legends such as Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero.
“I like this system at Juve, because the coach gives me room to move,” he said.
— Messi clone —
Diminutive, dynamic and armed with a deadly left foot, Dybala could be a prototype of a Messi clone.
The similarities between the two Argentines have been noted by Dybala’s strike partner Gonzalo Higuain among others.
And Dybala credits five-time world player of the year Messi as a source of inspiration.
“Luckily I have the chance to play with Messi in the national team,” he said ahead of the Barcelona defeat.
“It is a privilege to have him as a teammate and for sure I can learn a lot from him.
“How he interprets the game, how he sees things, how he thinks, how he sees the movement of his teammates.”
The player from Cordoba is also honoured to be compared to greats such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.
“We are talking about Messi and Cristiano who have incredible numbers that no other player has reached. And another in Neymar who in every game shows incredible things.
“It’s a huge honour. It means I am working well and the people see something in me that can develop in the future.”
But former Juventus and Italy midfielder Marco Tardelli believes Dybala still has to prove himself on the larger stage.
“He’s improved a lot, but I still expect something more from him,” Tardelli told Corriere dello Sport.
“There’s no doubt he’s a great player, but to be the new Messi he needs to drag the team forward in the Champions League too, not just in the league.”
Higuain added: “Messi is the best, he shows it every day. Paulo is still young. He is 23 and has the world at his feet.”