Football

Dybala can be Messi's heir

Former Juventus striker Trezeguet tips rising star to take over the mantle from Barca great

GROUP D
 BARCELONA JUVENTUS

Juventus will be out to prove that their two-legged win over Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals last season was no fluke when they travel to the Nou Camp for the opening Group D tie tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

The Bianconeri may have lost last season's final 4-1 to Real Madrid, but they claimed Barca's scalp along the way, beating the Catalan giants 3-0 in Turin and holding on for a 0-0 draw in the Nou Camp.

Barca will welcome the Italian champions as joint leaders in La Liga after a 5-0 thrashing of local rivals Espanyol on Saturday maintained their 100 per cent league record, but this game will be a stern test of their credentials.

Lionel Messi's hat-trick against Espanyol took his tally for the season to six, while Luis Suarez is also fully fit after missing the start of the campaign with an ankle injury.

Meanwhile, record signing Ousmane Dembele made his debut on Saturday and it will be interesting to see if Barca coach Ernesto Valverde puts him in the starting XI tomorrow morning, or keeps faith in Gerard Deulofeu, who has offered pace and enthusiasm in this start to the campaign.

Juventus eased past Chievo 3-0 in Turin to make it three wins out of three. All eyes will be on Argentine forward Paulo Dybala who has been compared to compatriot Messi.

Former Juventus striker David Trezeguet believes that the 23-year-old has what it takes to take over Messi's place in world football one day.

"We all know Messi very well. He is a top-class fooballer, he always makes the difference and he also did it this past weekend against Espanyol," the Frenchman told Tuttosport.

"Paulo is the present and the future of Juve, he had a great start to the season, he is scoring a lot of goals.

"I am sure he is looking forward to playing against Messi.

"This will motivate him. He feels no pressure when he is compared to the best in the world.

"It's clear that Messi has more experience and is at a different point in his career, but Paulo's growing a lot and maybe Messi's motivating him to improve.

"He has the qualities of a player at the highest level."

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri took it one step further, backing Dybala to one day prove himself equal to the likes of Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

NO. 10 SHIRT

This season, Juventus gave Dybala the coveted No. 10 shirt - previously worn by the likes of Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio and Alessandro del Piero.

And Dybala showed his qualities when he came off the bench to score in Juve's 3-0 win over Chievo, making it five goals in three Serie A games this season.

"Paulo will become one of the best players in the world. He and Neymar are the future once (Lionel) Messi and (Cristiano) Ronaldo hang up their boots," Allegri was quoted as saying by Juventus' website on Saturday.

"His future is with Juventus and I am very happy with that."

Dybala's agent Mino Raiola, however, has other ideas.

He believes the rising star will leave Juventus soon, and that Real Madrid or the Premier League could be his next destination.

"I think Dybala will eventually leave Juve," Raiola told RaiSport.

"He has to go to a team where he gets into a project that is already suitable for him.

"For him, it is difficult now to enter a reformed Barcelona, but he would do well at Real Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea." - WIRE SERVICES

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