AS Roma still looking for answers to ease their Paulo Dybala dependency after latest injury

The arrival of Daniele De Rossi at AS Roma has given Paulo Dybala a new lease of life, but the Giallorossi are still struggling to find the same level of attacking threat without the Argentine.

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Since the arrival of Daniele De Rossi as AS Roma coach in late January, nobody has lifted their game quite as much as forward Paulo Dybala, but the capital club are becoming increasingly dependent on him.

De Rossi replaced Jose Mourinho as tensions mounted at the Stadio Olimpico and has made an immediate impact with his boyhood club, leading them to 22 points from nine matches.

Central to the ex-midfielder’s revolution has been unlocking Dybala and allowing the Argentina international to carry the responsibility of turning Roma into an attacking force, but what happens when injury strikes, as has so often been the case?

New look AS Roma under De Rossi

There is no doubting that De Rossi has converted Roma into a far more adventurous outfit than the stale and often cautious football of the last days of Mourinho. Indeed, Roma have netted 23 goals under the new boss, the best record in Serie A across the last nine games, and are surging back up the table.

Key to that has been Dybala, with the former Juventus man providing eight goals and an assist in all competitions under De Rossi, whilst being the fulcrum of the Lupi’s attacking play.

De Rossi was keen to hand Dybala a free role in his Roma side, having spent the majority of his own career seeing Giallorossi icon Francesco Totti up close and recognising the impact a No. 10 with licence to play in their own manner can have.

Roma Paredes Dybala
AS Roma’s Paulo Dybala and Leandro Paredes celebrate in the Europa League. [@OfficialASRoma]

Different AS Roma without Dybala

Yet, without Dybala in the team Roma look shorn of creativity and have struggled to reach the same heights as when the 2022 World Cup winner is available. Most noticeably, Dybala ran the show as Roma thrashed Brighton 4-0 in the first leg of their Europa League Last 16 clash, but laboured to a 1-0 defeat in the return match as the star man was rested.

Despite boasting a wealth of attacking talent, Roma have struggled to get the most out of their strikers this season. Romelu Lukaku has 10 Serie A goals this term, but only two have come since the turn of the year, whilst Sardar Azmoun has only struck twice.

Similarly, Andrea Belotti managed just three goals in Serie A before being shipped off to Fiorentina in January, with two of those coming in Matchday 1, leaving the responsibility for goals firmly on Dybala‘s shoulders.

AS Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini celebrates with coach Daniele De Rossi (@OfficialASRoma)

Pellegrini stepping up under De Rossi

However, Roma are now showing signs of being able to cope without their star man, particularly with the welcome return to form of captain Lorenzo Pellegrini.

The Italian international has contributed six goals and three assists in all competitions under De Rossi, after just eight goal contributions all season prior to Mourinho‘s departure. Often the lightning rod for fans’ frustrations earlier in the campaign, Pellegrini has taken on the pressure of the captaincy and thrived in the last few months, driving Roma into Champions League contention.

Longer-term, Roma invested €10 million to bring in Tommaso Baldanzi from Empoli in January and whilst the young midfielder is still finding his feet in the capital, he is viewed as the eventual replacement for 30-year-old Dybala.

Roma may be best served blooding Baldanzi in as often as possible, with the Italy international growing into his role as understudy to Dybala and being able to plug the gap left by the mounting injuries sustained by the Argentine star.

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