A young clinical forward with potential as high as the sky. The hardest thing to acquire and the hardest thing to keep. Over the past few years, there haven’t been many more young players who’ve excited and impressed more than Juventus’ Paulo Dybala and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann. Both spearhead their respective teams’ attack although this is more the case with Griezmann, as Dybala has a certain £75 million Argentine to share the workload and forward line with. In an age where the quality of striker has dramatically decreased from the days of Ronaldo, Van Nistelrooy, Totti, Owen and the ilk, Dybala and Griezmann breathe a new age of striker which is set to take over the footballing world. Both the Frenchman and Argentine are touted to become world players, competing for Ballon D’ors after the Messi/Ronaldo duopoly is long over.
Dyblala Born in Cordoba which is situated in the center of Argentina in 1993 on the 15th of November although has Polish and Italian heritage through his grandparents. Paulo Dybala joined local club Instituto Atletico Central Cordoba as a young kid in 2003, working and continuously impressing his way up the youth ranks until making his first team debut aged 17 in 2011 and spent a season at his boyhood club, notching 17 goals in 40 appearances for the Central Argentine club before attracting major attention from mainland Europe and opted for Italian club Palermo and club president Maurizio Zamparini confirmed the capture of the pint-sized Argentine in April 2012, citing him as the new Sergio Aguero although due to legal technicalities and issues, he was officially announced as a Rosanero player in July and scored his first goals for the Italian club in November against Sampdoria. He carried on his steady progression over the next two years, the 2014/15 season was his real breakout year, creating a formidable partnership with Italian forward Franco Vazquez as Dybala clocked up 10 goals in the first half of the season as the duo helped the club stay in the Italian top flight as Paulo finished the season with 13 goals and 10 assists in Serie A, a joint top highest for assists tied with Hamsik, Pjanic, Berardi and fellow team-mate Vazquez. Having spent the season constantly linked with a host of top European clubs, Dybala joined Turin’s Old Lady, Juventus for a fee of €32m potentially rising to €40m with €8m being performance related add-ons and clauses. He impressed for the Turin club and gained praise from fans and media alike as he began to fill the Carlos Tevez shaped hole left by the former Manchester United forward. In his first 16 appearances for the club, he notched up six goals and two assists, which gave him a ratio of a goal every 151 minutes. He ended the season as Juventus’ top scorer with 23 goals in all competitions and propelling Juventus to another Serie A title, after a dodgy start. This season he currently has 7 goals and 4 assists in 19 goals, continuing his skyrocketing progression. In terms of his style of play, he has been compared to forwards like Maradona, Messi, Aguero, Riquelme among others, which isn’t bad company to be in. Dybala is known as a quick creative forward which is quick on the turn and has a deadly left strike who incidentally, is very similar to a certain Antoine Greizmann.Antoine Griezmann was born in a small little town called Macon, which is in the center of France. He began his footballing journey at his local club of UF Macon and whilst there, had many trials in an effort to get into a professional club’s academy, but was turned away due to their questions and worries of Antoine making it into the professional game due to the Frenchman’s lack of size and lightweight narrow frame. He carried on having trials at numerous French clubs unsuccessfully before being spotted by Real Sociedad scouts while playing against PSG’s reserves for Montpelier. The Spanish club offered him a week trial which was then extended by a further week before formally being offered and accepting a youth contract with Real Sociedad. Griezmann steadily progressed with the Basque club through the youth ranks for four years before being called up for the 1st team squad for the 09-10 season while the club were in the second division and made a handful of appearances for the team and had his real breakout season in 2012/13, where he got 11 goals in all competitions, including 10 in La Liga as he led the Basque club to Champions League football for the first time in nearly 10 years. He impressed further in the following season as although he did not have an impact on their short-lived Champions League run he did finish the season with his highest goal tally as he finished the season with 20 goals. This brought him attention from a whole host of big clubs around the globe, but eventually moved to the capital of Spain to Atletico Madrid for a fee of €30m and skyrocketed as he finished the season with 25 goals and the season he finished 4th top scorer of La Liga and led Atleti to a 2nd Champions League final in three years, although missed his penalty for them and lost to Real Madrid on penalties. He also led France to the Euro final, although they lost to Portugal and finished top scorer of the tournament on home soil. He ended 2016 3rd in both the Ballon D’or and FIFA The Best award as well as getting into the team of the year, which capped off an amazing individual year. He currently has 14 goals and 7 assists in 27 games this season, showing his progress to the very top. His playing style entails being able to play all over the forward line who possesses great dribbling and an acute eye for goal which he’s showed over the past few years. Despite his 5’7 frame, he is a very good header of the ball and has a leap even the mightiest CB’s would be proud of. When comparing Dybala and Griezmann in terms of play style and size, they are both extremely similar as both are relatively short, both are left-footed, possessing great dribbling skills and both are potential finishers in front of goal. In terms of output Griezmann comes out on top in that department in each of the past 4 seasons, however, there is a number of contributing factors as to why the numbers are so stacked up against the young Argentine. One is the fact that Greizmann is simply more experienced in the professional game with two more professional seasons under his belt as well as the fact that Griezmann has been Atletico’s main forward for years now who play a high pressing game and the Madrid club are somewhat dependant on the Frenchman, whereas Dybala is played in somewhat a more conservative system often deployed with another striker and shares the spotlight with Gonzalo Higuain, arguably one of the deadliest strikers on the planet.
Both Dybala and Griezmann are amazing talents for both their club and country and are destined for the very top. If they can keep up their upwards trajectory in progress and stay injury free, we can be looking at the next top footballing rivalry.