In the span of several days, two sagas that have been dragged out for months finally came to an end. Numerous rumors seemed to be continuously recycled through the various media outlets that the deals were almost done or fell apart completely. Yet, in the end Perinetti and his men were able to finalize both. The Rosanero made two important investments by nabbing promising young striker Paulo Dybala from Instituto and talented international midfielder Egidio Arevao Rios from Tijuana.
Palermo have quietly been putting together one of the better transfer campaigns in Serie A. Many have criticized Zamparini over his transfer policies and while some of it is justified, other times he has opened up his wallet and made good purchases. After the additions of Franco Brienza, Samir Ujkani and Nicolas Viola, Zamparini found the “next big thing” in Argentina by getting Dybala’s signature.
Of course, it wasn’t easy, with the player’s contract owned by several different parties, reigniting similar memories of the Pastore affair. While Palermo managed to come to an agreement with Dybala’s team, Instituto, several months ago, there continued to be problems with acquiring him outright. Warring factions emerged as part of his contract was owned by a group called Penchill Limited. The organization was holding out hope that other, bigger teams that showed interest in Dybala would step forward – teams like Manchester City, Inter and Chelsea. There had even been rumors that Dybala was refusing a move to Palermo, but those all proved to be false. Then, late last week, the deal was finally struck after Palermo staff flew to London to reach an agreement with Penchill Limited and acquired Paulo’s signature as he was hashing out his paperwork in an undisclosed location in Italy. All in all, Zamparini claims to have spent €12 million total for the player. So, what’s the big fuss about? After all, Paulo Dybala could easily pass for a Primavera player rather than one who had Europe’s big teams swooning over him.
Paulo Dybala, the 18 year old striker from Laguna Larga in Cordoba, Argentina spent his youth in the Instituto system and broke into the first team last year as the club played in Primera B (the Argentine equivalent to Serie B). It was a dream debut season for Paulo as he took the league by storm, scoring 17 goals in 38 appearances. At one point, he scored a goal in six consecutive games and had two hat-tricks over the course of the season.
He has exhibited the qualities of the modern striker: he’s quick, agile and versatile. The folks over at Argentina Football World described him as “invigorating…attacking moves with deft one-touch passes, canny through balls and precise, curling crosses into the box…” and “is also in possession of world-class technique on the ball”. He tapered off towards the end of last season in Argentina, but the pressure of his impending move abroad could have had an effect on his poor showings more than anything else. The potential is there and it’s that key ingredient that has left many salivating over how good he can be. He’s drawn comparisons to Sergio Aguero and Vincenzo Montella, but as Dybala put it in his Palermo press conference, he prefers to be known as “simply Dybala.” He should be eased into the intricacies and difficulties of Serie A, much like Javier Pastore and Franco Vazquez were given time during their first months in the league. The hope is not to apply too much pressure on Dybala and overwhelm him from the start, but to encourage him to adapt and learn and gradually the talent will be put on showcase.
On Monday, Palermo made another important announcement. They finally acquired Egidio Arevalo Rios, the Uruguayan international who narrowly joined the club back in January, paying Tijuana a sum around €3 million. The defensive midfielder had been playing in the Mexican league for Tijuana, despite being a very vital piece of Uruguay’s midfield. Somehow, Rios had been overlooked by just about everyone even though he put on fantastic displays for semifinalists Uruguay at the 2010 World Cup and Copa America winners in 2011.
Arevalo is a tenacious midfielder who has earned the nickname “little giant” for the way he plays notwithstanding his short stature. For those familiar with Palermo, he plays with the same amount of passion and grit that Giulio Migliaccio has exhibited in the past few years. Yet, Rios possesses better technical skill as he can dribble and pass just like a regista. In essence, he’s Migliaccio with good feet. At 29 years old, he has finally had his dream of playing in Europe come true. Unlike Dybala, Arevalo is expected to make an immediate impact in the Palermo midfield whether that’s as Migliaccio’s replacement or his teammate in the new-look, bruising midfield. He’s currently participating with Uruguay in the Olympics and will join the Rosanero afterward. Fans will get a good opportunity to watch him in action and if his past work is any indication, it should be exciting.
The transfer window is far from over, but slowly and surely Palermo is finding the right men for Sannino to succeed. Zamparini knew he had to do something to restore the faith and the additions of Dybala and Rios are a step in the right direction.