Paulo Dybala is coming to the end of his Juventus career, but Massimiliano Allegri will throw the Argentina forward into Sunday’s Derby d’Italia regardless.
It could be Inter that Dybala plays for next season, as they reportedly court the 28-year-old who is entering the final months of his Juventus contract.
But this weekend the Nerazzurri will be the opposition as Dybala looks to help Juventus continue their surge up the table.
Victory at the Allianz Stadium would lift Juventus above faltering Inter and into third place, with the Scudetto perhaps not entirely off the table, despite Allegri’s protestations they are not part of the title battle.
Amid intrigue over whether Dybala could miss out, Allegri backed him to make an impact in the biggest match of the weekend’s Serie A schedule.
“Dybala will start the game,” Allegri told a news conference on Saturday.
Talks over a new contract for Dybala broke down in March, meaning he can leave on a free transfer, and Allegri said Juventus agreed that outcome would be for the best.
“We are in agreement with the club on everything,” Allegri said. “There is always a unity of purpose to move forward. The choices are made together.
“When we talk, I present my ideas and the company its own, and then in the end we always find unity of purpose to plan. We plan everything together.
“I don’t think it’s the first case of a player changing clubs. Right now, we need to be focused for the season finale.”
Dybala has scored a modest three goals in his 10 previous Serie A games against Inter.
Allegri smarted at the mention of speculation over a possible move for Dybala to Inter, and for Paul Pogba to Juventus. Like Dybala, Manchester United’s Pogba, a former Juve star, will be a free agent come the end of June.
“Dybala at Inter and Pogba at Juve? I don’t do my own transfer market, let alone those of others,” Allegri said, quoted by Gazzetta Dello Sport.
Allegri: “With matches like the Derby d’Italia it’s difficult to call a favourite. Certainly Inter are one of the Scudetto contenders. Tomorrow must be a great evening of football, we need to put in a good performance against the Italian champions.”#JuveInter
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) April 2, 2022
Inter looked strong favourites for the Serie A title earlier in the year but have taken only 11 points from their last nine Serie A games (W2 D5 L2), while Juventus have taken 21 points in the same stretch to hurtle into a strong fourth spot, closing in on the top three.
A 1-1 draw at San Siro when these teams met in the league in October was followed in January by Inter edging Juve 2-1 in the Supercoppa Italiana.
“It’s not easy to say who is favourite in the Derby d’Italia,” Allegri said. “We have been following our path steadily, and we are ready to face Inter… maybe it’s our turn to win this fixture.
“Inter, together with Milan and Napoli, are one of three candidates for the Scudetto. As for Juventus, we need to keep our focus on fourth place. That’s the position we are in right now but Atalanta are breathing down our necks. Our aim is to qualify for the Champions League next season.”
Allegri’s Juventus have recently pulled clear of Atalanta, who headed into the weekend nine points adrift of the Turin giants, albeit with one game in hand. This has come about due to Juventus having the longest current unbeaten run in Serie A – a stretch of 16 games (W11 D5).
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