Juventus finally have their next big star in Paulo Dybala

When Juventus took on Barcelona on Tuesday, all eyes were keyed in on one sensational Argentine. Except it wasn’t Lionel Messi, as would be expected. Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala seized the spotlight on Tuesday, and by the time he left the pitch in the 81st minute it was easy to see why the Juventus faithful showered him with a standing ovation.

The 23-year-old moved to Turin from Palermo in 2015 and immediately made an impact, but his 2016/17 season with the Old Lady has been truly fantastic. He’s particularly enjoyed himself in front of the home crowd, scoring goal after goal at Juventus Stadium, but perhaps no two goals were more important than the brace he grabbed to demoralize Barcelona.

Dybala’s first came in the 7th minute on a lightning-quick turn and fire, leaving Barcelona back line wondering what had happened. Then, the Argentine doubled his team’s lead with a brilliant one-time effort with his preferred left foot just 15 minutes later. A Giorgio Chiellini header gave Juventus further breathing room in the tie, but it was Dybala who had stolen the show.

It was the kind of match Juventus fans have been desperate for: a young star beginning to blossom right before them.

Consider the global icons that have left Turin the past few years. Carlos Tevez left after the 2015 Champions League final to return to his native Argentina. That same summer, Juventus lost Andrea Pirlo (an aging, but still effective and marketable midfielder) to MLS and Arturo Vidal to Bayern Munich.

The departure that perhaps hurt most, though, came when Manchester United lured Paul Pogba away for a world-record fee. The now-24-year-old midfielder was closing in on 200 caps for the Old Lady had and entrenched himself as one of the world’s best, brightest young players.

To be fair, the sales of those players helped fund the reinvestment into the squad that has Juventus in the Champions League quarterfinals. Until now, though, there hasn’t been a player with the “it” factor of Dybala. Gonzalo Higuain arrived last summer in a club-record purchase, but the 29-year-old forward came as a proven commodity.

Dybala had hype and fanfare when he joined Juventus from Palermo, but there was no telling if he’d be able to get the job done on the larger stages afforded by Juventus. Scoring a brace against Cagliari in a Serie A match is a whole lot different than scoring one against Barcelona in the Champions League, after all. Yet, he’s showed he’s more than capable of delivering on the promise.

It’s the types of performances Dybala put in against Barcelona that get standing ovations from tens of thousands at Juventus Stadium.

At long last, the superstar they’ve been waiting for has arrived.