When I bring up Paulo Dybala, perhaps best known as one of half of Dab Gang, in a discussion with other fans of the game, I usually get the same few comments:
"He's got a ton of potential."
"He could be one of the best strikers in Italy someday."
It's true that he's nowhere near his peak, but what if I told you that all of this "potential" talk is kind of misleading? He's one of the best forwards in Italy right now.
While watching any game, his impact is immediately obvious. His ability to drop into the midfield, receive the ball, and make runs at the defense has been huge for a Juventus attack that has struggled at times this season. Perhaps the most striking of his skills is his ridiculous first touch, which allows him to receive passes in stride and immediately launch into a deceptive move off the dribble. He's been productive both as a goal scoring threat and as a passer and he's even proven handy on free kicks and corners. He has the skillset of a complete forward and it'll be fascinating to see what sort of player he evolves into.
But that's besides the point. Right now, he's playing like one the best players in Serie A.
While Squawka's "performance score" stat can be a bit iffy as a measure of player performance (Alejandro Gomez probably isn't the third-best dude in the league), it currently places Dybala as the seventh-most productive player -- all positions included -- in the Italy. Perhaps more telling are the traditional stats. He currently sits at seventh among all players (second among forwards) in key passes, while playing less minutes than all but one player in the top 10.
He currently sits at fourth in goals with eight so far (all with his left foot) and 12th in assists, with three. He's knocked in a goal every 137.5 minutes, which is a strong rate that should only improve (he's put 50% of his shots on target during the win streak). He's also sixth in Serie A in shots attempted for the season (Dab Gang co-founder Paul Pogba is fifth) despite coming off the bench for much of the early part of the season and having a relatively low minutes total. Don't be shocked if his goal scoring rate improves even further in the next few months.
When we talk about Paulo Dybala, we're not only talking about someone with a bright future. We're talking about a player opponents should fear in the present.