Juventus star Paulo Dybala has sent the rumour mill into overdrive with his holiday plans, as speculation linking him with Real Madrid was followed with reports he was spotted having dinner with Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone in the Spanish capital.
Dybala wasn't called up for Argentina's international friendlies and decided to use his time off to vacation in Madrid, per Gazzetta dello Sport (via Football Italia). The short trip immediately led to speculation linking him with Los Blancos, but the Italian newspaper was adamant La Joya simply wanted to take a bit of time off.
Radio Marca (h/t Football Italia) reignited the speculation shortly thereafter, however, with reports Dybala was spotted having dinner at a restaurant with Simeone, spending the entire evening together. The report notes the Rojiblancos will likely need a replacement for Antoine Griezmann this summer.
The 24-year-old has been linked at length with a number of top teams, and Bleacher Report's Dean Jones added Manchester City to the list earlier this month:
The links to Atletico are new but would make sense should Griezmann depart the club―the Rojiblancos would receive ample funds in return and would have a need for a mobile forward who can create, as well as score.
Dybala's future has been hotly debated for years now, as the Spanish and British press anticipate a sale to one of the sport's elite clubs. Juventus remain adamant they belong to that group and have no intention of selling, going so far as to hand the forward the iconic No. 10 shirt.
That shirt has been worn by a number of club legends, per Serie A's official YouTube channel:
The last to wear the shirt was Paul Pogba, however, and he only did so for one season, earning a move to United the following summer.
Juventus replaced him with Miralem Pjanic and didn't skip a beat, but finding a replacement for Dybala could prove more difficult. The former Palermo man has proven a versatile attacking option, shifting between the striker and attacking midfielder positions, and he's one of the team's key creative forces.
When he was injured or out of form after that setback, the team struggled in front of goal, often having to rely on a single flash of brilliance from Pjanic or Gonzalo Higuain. Dybala has rediscovered his form of late, with winners against Lazio, Roma and Tottenham Hotspur.
He'll undoubtedly be a wanted man in the summer, whether he signs a new contract or not. Juventus will fight tooth and nail to keep him, however, and if he does end up leaving, it will likely be for a massive fee close to the one Paris Saint-Germain paid Barcelona for Neymar.
Even with the sale of Griezmann, it's doubtful Atletico could afford such a huge sum, but Real will always be contenders, no matter the cost.