Dybala to Roma – Has Mourinho Found His New Sneijder?

Despite his English woes in recent years, José Mourinho never quite lost his “Special” charm in the Italian peninsula. When the Portuguese first landed in Eternal City last summer, Roma fans flocked to greet him, granting him a warm welcome befitting his reputation. And after all, they had every right to celebrate the appointment of the famed tactician, because as proven by his first year in the capital, he hasn’t yet lost his knack for trophies.

Moreover, the Special One remains arguably the best in the business when it comes to persuading stars to join his cause. Back in 2009, Mourinho convinced Wesley Sneijder to join Inter – and the rest, as they say, is history – and in this summer, he pulled off the same maneuver with Paulo Dybala.

So will the Argentine be able to replicate the Dutchman’s career revival under the tutelage of the world’s most controversial manager?

Let’s take a look at the main resemblances between the two cases.

Similar Career Paths

Sneijder and Dybala have somewhat different characteristics. The first was a natural playmaker who could easily pick up a teammate with his shrewd passing and spectacular vision, while the second is a genuine Trequartista who can take an entire defense on his own.

Yet, each of them is a genius in his own right, and despite their different traits, they both operate as a number 10 behind the centre forward.

However, they had both suffered hurdles at the peak of their respective careers, and were overlooked in favor of others, being deemed surplus to requirements.

Despite cementing himself as one of the top stars at Real Madrid between 2007 and 2009, Sneijder found himself on the outs following the arrivals of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema which signaled the beginning of a new era at the Santiago Bernabeu under returning president Florentino Perez.

On the other hand, Dybala was hoping to linger in Turin for a longer period, but the Juventus management had other plans in mind, centering a new project around the broad shoulders of Dusan Vlahovic. The directors eventually decided to retract on the verbal agreement previously reached with the Argentine’s representative.

Jose on the Line

These events certainly left both men devastated and perhaps short on confidence, but luckily for both, they were about to receive some cheerful messages from one of the greatest managers of all time.

In the case of Sneijder, Mourinho sent him several SMS urging him to take the flight to Milano, while Dybala received a direct call from the Special One.

While the manner may have changed, the result was the same, as neither player was able to resist the persuasive charm of the former Chelsea and Man United boss.

Sneijder Effect

In Mourinho’s first campaign in Italian football, he found mild success at Inter. While he managed to lead the Nerazzurri towards a comfortable Scudetto title, it was already the norm at that period, with his predecessor Roberto Mancini already guiding the club towards two titles (on the pitch) in the previous campaigns.

Thus, Mourinho and the management were adamant on bolstering the club’s ranks with a host of stars that uplifts their status from domestic flat-track bullies to genuine European contenders.

Samuel Eto’o, Lucio, Thiago Motta, Goran Pandev and the unforgettable Diego Milito all arrived in the summer of 2009 to bolster the Beneamata’s ranks, and most of them even exceeded initial expectations.

Nonetheless, the historic treble would have been impossible to achieve without the late-summer addition of Sneijder who was arguably the most vital piece in Mourinho’s brilliant jigsaw.

The former Netherlands international immediately cemented himself as one of the best creative forces on the planet at the time, leaving Real Madrid to rue the day they allowed him to slip out of their hands. Until this day, many still believe that Sneijder was robbed out of the Ballon d’Or during that season in favor of Lionel Messi.

Revived Dybala?

While we know exactly how Sneijder’s story played out at Inter, it remains to be seen if Dybala would be able to have a similar impact at Roma, and help the Giallorossi reach the next level.

Now surely the capital side doesn’t have to win a treble next season, but due to the club’s regressing league status in the later years, the margin of improvement is a large one, and the club’s enthusiasts will put their faith in La Joya in the hopes of reducing the gap with the Big Three.

At the moment, we can only speculate on how things will unfold at the Stadio Olimpico next season, but one thing is for sure, we haven’t seen the Roman fanbase this excited ahead of an upcoming in a long long time.