Paulo Dybala has stunned Argentina supporters by telling reporters in Italy that he has not been granted permission by Juventus to play at this summer’s Olympics with Argentina.
After helping Juventus to a second consecutive league and cup double on Saturday, La Joya was asked about going to Rio de Janiero in August for the Olympic tournament following his exclusion from Gerardo Martino’s Copa América squad.
“I don’t have permission” the 22-year-old said, before adding, “I was hoping to go to the Copa [América], because a month ago I was told that I don’t have permission to go to the Olympics. I hoped to at least go to the Copa, but the coach’s decisions must be respected.
“It is not easy to assemble a squad with many players with the same characteristics. But, sorry, Juventus has not given me permission.”
The Olympic tournament is not an official FIFA date and so clubs are at liberty to deny their players a call-up but if what Dybala says is true, Argentina will be without their best player in Rio de Janiero.
His absence from Gerardo Martino’s Copa América squad was rationalised by his presumed participation at the Olympics but if the Córdoba-born talent is missing from both, it is a major oversight by everyone involved in the national side.
Gerardo Martino had previously said on the subject of Dybala: “I’d rather have Dybala at the [Olympic] Games. To be a substitute in one competition, it is better to have him in the other.”
While it is true that Dybala was unlikely to get a starting role in the United States ahead of Lionel Messi, Ángel Di María, Gonzalo Higuaín and Sergio Agüero, there are few players available who have had better seasons than the Juventus youngster. It is also certainly true that Dybala would have represented a wonderful option from the bench, offering far more than the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Argentina had a similar situation in 2008 when Barcelona initially blocked Lionel Messi’s call to play in Beijing. Despite the Catalan giants being under no obligation an agreement was eventually made between Messi and then manager Pep Guardiola.
This scenario appears to be Argentina’s only hope of Dybala travelling to Rio but it doesn’t sound likely.
For Dybala to say that Juventus’ decision was made known a month ago is baffling given the 22-year-old missed out on the Copa América. Gerardo Martino or someone at the AFA appears to have a huge error and will need to answer some uncomfortable questions.