Juventus forward Paulo Dybala does not want to be put in the same bracket as Lionel Messi despite downing the Barcelona icon and his illustrious team-mates.
Dybala netted a brilliant first-half brace as the Serie A titleholders comprehensively beat Barca 3-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Juventus Stadium.
Already viewed in some quarters as Messi’s heir for the Argentina national team, Dybala’s match-winning display brought forth further superlatives, with veteran Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon saying he has the ability to be considered one of the three best players in the world.
Nevertheless, Dybala was keen to stay in the moment after a dominant victory that will live long in the memory – provided Massimiliano Allegri’s side avoid the type of improbable capitulation Paris Saint-Germain suffered in the previous round at Camp Nou.
“Messi is Messi, the one who plays for Barca,” he told TV3
“I’m Paulo, I’m happy but we know that it will not end here and that it will not be easy at Camp Nou.
“I try to enjoy these moments and not think about what’s going to happen.
“I will do everything to get as far as possible.”
Dybala has also been touted as a possible transfer target for Barcelona, with club great Xavi describing him as a perfect fit for the Spanish champions.
His clinical showing in Turin is likely to increase the clamour further but the 23-year-old explained he is close to agreeing on a new deal with Juventus.
“I am very happy at Juventus,” he added.
“My renewal is very close, people are very fond of me and I will give more joy to the fans.”
Lionel Messi was thoroughly outstanding despite Barcelona’s 3-0 defeat to Juventus on Tuesday night in a first-leg Champions League quarterfinal match.
When Barca lost 4-0 to Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16 first leg, it appeared that the great man’s powers were finally waning, but his showing in Turin should refute such an idea.
While Juventus played well, with manager Max Allegri’s careful tactical plan delivering optimum results, they were still fortunate to escape suffering at the hands of Messi’s genius.
From two passes of superhuman accuracy, Messi deserved better than Andres Iniesta’s first-half miss, while in the second half, Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was required to deliver his own brand of genius and save a Luis Suarez shot to deny Barca an away goal.
Instead, Messi and his teammates were sunk by the finishing of Paulo Dybala. First, Dybala curved in from the flank and curled a shot around Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the seventh minute, and then thrashed home a second goal in the 22nd minute after Mario Mandzukic laid off the ball in the inside-right channel.
Dybala may brush aside comparisons to his Argentine compatriot Messi, but on Tuesday night Dybala announced himself as a talent who might one day accompany, and eventually supplant, Barcelona’s idol for both club and country.