Paulo Dybala & Papu Gómez honoured after glittering seasons in Serie A: Can it be reproduced for Argentina?

After nine consecutive Serie A titles Juventus’ status at the top of the pile in Italy is not in question but Paulo Dybala named as the league’s Player of the year marks a rise to among the game’s elite players. Cristiano Ronaldo remained Juve’s prolific goal scorer but pipped to the Capocannoniere by Ciro Immobile it was the Portuguese marksman’s partner in crime, Dybala recognised as the league’s best.

Argentina had further reason to celebrate with Alejandro Gómez’s dazzling displays for Atalanta validated with Papu being named Serie A’s best midfielder.

Yet neither Dybala or Papu has been able to reproduce this level of performance in the Albiceleste – the Juve man admitting to struggling to adapt to play alongside Lionel Messi since his debut in 2015 and Gómez unable to add to a meagre four appearances in 2017.

It has been quite the turnaround for Dybala, who Juventus deemed as surplus to requirements last season and came close to allowing to leave. One year on and the Instituto academy graduate is on the verge of signing a bumper new deal as one of the key parts of Maurizio Sarri’s title winning side.

Eleven goals and six assists in Serie A proved instrumental and Juventus are now hoping that their MVP recovers from a thigh injury to face Lyon in the Champions League.

Following last season’s difficulties under manager Massimiliano Allegri to play in tandem with Cristiano Ronaldo, Argentina supporters could be excused for feeling a sense of optimism over how with time the relationship between the pair has blossomed. After all, Dybala has spoken of his difficulty with playing in the same team as Lionel Messi given their positional similarities cutting in off the right on to their wand-like left boots.

Argentina perhaps didn’t invest enough time into making that connection but there has been signs of improvement under Lionel Scaloni over the past year and there is a growing sense that the Albiceleste simply must find a way to accommodate both.

If 29 international appearances in almost five years hasn’t really been an adequate opportunity for Dybala then Atalanta icon Papu Gómez has every right to feel utterly ignored.

Jorge Sampaoli handed Papu his Argentina debut in a friendly against Singapore in 2017 but only three further appearances followed that year and since then Gómez has been overlooked.

Yet while his international career has floundered, Gómez just keeps getting better in Italy. Topping the assist rankings for another year, the 32-year-old’s 13 assists, most number of key passes and most progressive runs made him the most creative player in Serie A. A hero in Bergamo and a major factor behind Atalanta reproducing a third-place finish and still going in the Champions League.

Previous Argentina managers reluctance to make many changes and persevere with Ángel Di María on the left of the forward line reduced opportunities and although Scaloni has handed chances to a number of new faces, the focus has been youth.

A worthy approach as Argentina build towards the 2022 World Cup but one that is surely open to exceptions. Gómez’s ability to play off the wing, drop deep and play centrally in a high-tempo system would provide Scaloni with a terrific option.

World Cup qualifying is scheduled to make a delayed start in October and both players warrant a place in Argentina’s plans.