In yet another amusing chapter in the career of Maurizio Zamparini, the Palermo owner announced the signing of 18-year-old striker Paulo Dybala in April 2012 from Instituto.
In doing so, Zamparini declared a transfer victory over giants Chelsea and Inter. That is, before Instituto said he had acquired ‘the next Sergio Aguero’ from an unauthorised party.
Undeterred, however, Zamparini did eventually beat the Blues and Nerazzurri to his man. By July, Dybala had officially been secured from Instituto and landed at the Renzo Barbera.
Now nearly two-and-a-half years on, the 73-year-old remains convinced of the Argentine’s quality. Zamparini has claimed that he’s worth €42 million – up from €30 million last month – the same amount the Rosanero sold Javier Pastore for in 2011.
But Dybala still has a long way to go. The 20-year-old has been impressive bagging three goals and two assists so far this season, yet that’s miles from €42 million territory.
Zamparini of course knows this. With Southampton reportedly lining up a swoop for Dybala, what Zamparini needs is time for him to be brought along.
This could be a problem for Palermo, though. They’ll need to achieve safety from relegation this term, as well as renew Dybala’s contract – expiring in 2016 – to achieve this end.
And former Rosanero defender Francesco Galeoto believes that it is too soon to talk about Dybala’s future, with Palermo’s Serie A status in the balance.
Galeoto told Tutto Mercato Web: “Dybala is a monster football-wise, but we are also capable having an incredible season with [head coach Beppe] Iachini.
“But Palermo is not yet safe, it is too soon to talk about Dybala’s future. It is likely to bother the boy, but he is very strong.”
Palermo currently sit thirteenth in Serie A after winning three of their last four, having suffered without a win through the first six rounds of the campaign.
Zamparini knows all too well how quickly a season can go awry. Palermo were relegated in Dybala’s first term with the club after a few disastrous runs of form.
Relegation would ruin his project with Dybala – and possibly give Southampton a direct route to a cut-price deal for the highly-rated youngster.
If Palermo were to go down, surely Zamparini would be forced to sell. The 20-year-old wouldn’t settle for Serie B and with a year remaining on his contract, the Rosanero would have to cash in prematurely at a discount rate.
For a hoped-for Dybala payday to come, Palermo will need to stave off the drop and get the Argentine’s signature on a renewal – giving him time to put a €42 million price-tag on himself.
Should Iachini’s men finish in the bottom three, however, Southampton may just have a bargain on their hands next summer – one that would fly in the face of everything Zamparini hoped for when he beat the likes of Chelsea to Dybala in 2012.