Pirlo hopes Dybala stays at Juventus after decisive goal against Napoli

By Sports Desk April 07, 2021

Andrea Pirlo is hopeful Paulo Dybala will stay at Juventus after the forward came off the bench to secure a Serie A win over Napoli.

Dybala scored as a substitute in a league game on Wednesday for the first time since March 2020, steering a fine finish past Alex Meret in Juve's 2-1 win after Cristiano Ronaldo's first-half opener.

It proved to be the decisive goal, with Juve having been left living dangerously in the closing minutes after a late penalty from Lorenzo Insigne.

With a year to run on his contract, it has been suggested Juve could look to move Dybala on after this season, but head coach Pirlo is keen to keep the Argentina international.

Indeed, Pirlo believes Dybala would have made a greater impact this season had he not missed nearly four months of action with a knee injury.

"When you have a player like Dybala at your disposal, you always try to let him play. We've almost never had him," he told Sky Sport.

"When you miss someone like this, it becomes difficult, and when he comes back he helps you win.

"He still has a year on his contract. We hope to be able to keep him."

The win saw Juve bounce back from their shock 1-0 home loss to Benevento last week, but league leaders Inter remain 12 points ahead after beating Sassuolo 2-1.

Pirlo accepts the champions have themselves to blame for allowing such a gap to open up, but he was delighted with the attitude shown by his players against Gennaro Gattuso's side.

"We've lost a lot of points. We gave up too many chances on the road that led us to having this gap to the leaders," he said.

"When you sacrifice yourself for everyone in the game, you get the great benefit of the result. Everyone sacrificed themselves. Cristiano, too, when someone was out of position, he ran backwards."

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    Dybala's contract at Juventus is expiring, making him one of the most sought-after free agents of the upcoming transfer window.

    Widespread reports have suggested he is most likely to join Argentina team-mate Martinez at Inter – although the Nerazzurri striker is also the subject of transfer speculation.

    But as the pair link up on national team duty, Martinez insists Dybala's club future has been set to one side.

    "We didn't touch the subject," Martinez told TyC Sports. "We talk about many things, about his situation and everything, but today he is thinking about the national team.

    "His future will be decided when these games are over.

    "He is a player with quality, personality and I hope he plays where he feels most comfortable, where he is happy."

    Martinez is also focused on his role with Argentina, looking ahead to the World Cup in Qatar later this year – the first of his Albiceleste career.

    "[The World Cup] is a dream I have had since childhood," Martinez said. "With my family, I constantly talk about this – they are all football fans.

    "If I think now about what could happen, anxiety comes to me. I hope we can leave a good impression.

    "These are dreams you always have. First your dreams are of being a professional, then they are renewed. Today I am months away from this [dream]; I hope it can be fulfilled and I can help my team-mates."

    Even before that, at the start of June, Argentina have the Finalissima against Italy at Wembley to look forward to, pitting the Copa America winners against the European champions – an eagerly awaited fixture for Italy-based Martinez, even if the Azzurri will not be in Qatar.

    "It will be an important game for us because of what the opponent means, beyond the fact that they have been left out of this World Cup," he said.

    "We know their characteristics, their players, they are a high-level opponent. We have a very important test ahead to see where we stand."

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