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  16 Jan 2022, 10:59

Dybala helps Juve to Udinese win as contract spat bubbles under

MILAN, Jan 16, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Paulo Dybala was on target as Juventus beat
Covid-hit Udinese 2-0 on Saturday and appeared to send a message to the club
over contract talks, while Ciro Immobile leads the Serie A scoring charts
after his early double helped Lazio to a 3-0 win at rock-bottom Salernitana.

   Argentina forward Dybala swept home a classy finish from Moise Kean's lay-
off to put Juve ahead in the 19th minute of a largely drab contest at the
Allianz Stadium in Turin, but it was his reaction to the strike which raised
eyebrows.

   He did not celebrate his seventh Serie A goal of the season and shot a
stern look to the stand where the Juve hierarchy was sitting, with observers
suggesting he was making clear his unhappiness about the delay to the renewal
of his contract.

   Dybala explained the glare by saying he was looking "for a friend who I'd
invited to the game".

   When asked by Sky Sport Italia whether fans should believe him, Dybala
said: "I don't know, that's up to you."

   The 28-year-old's current deal expires at the end of the season and he is
waiting to sign an extension which Italian media report should take his
annual salary up to eight million euros a season ($9.1 million), plus a
further two million euros of bonuses.

   The Gazzetta Dello Sport reports that the deal had already been agreed in
principle for some time but that Dybala has been frustrated by continued
stalling by the club.

   "Lots of things have happened that I would prefer not to talk about,"
Dybala said, when pressed on the renewal.

   Weston McKennie sealed the win with 11 minutes remaining, taking Juve
level on 41 points with fourth-placed Atalanta, who have played two games
fewer and host leaders Inter Milan on Sunday.

   - Defiant Immobile -

   Udinese had nine players out of action with Covid-19 infections and
struggled to lay a glove on an underwhelming Juve team which was missing
central defensive pair Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.

   They sit 14th, four points above the relegation zone alongside Sampdoria,
who lost 2-1 to Torino in Saturday's early match.

   Italy forward Immobile netted twice in the first 10 minutes at Salernitana
to give the away side a lead that they never looked like relinquishing and
take his league tally to 17, one more than Fiorentina's rising star Dusan
Vlahovic, in 18 appearances.

   After scoring his 140th league goal with Lazio, where he has played since
2016, Immobile hit back at criticism of his performances for the national
team, where he has been much less prolific in front of goal.

   "I'm a European champion, and my stats speak for themselves, I don't need
to respond to that stuff on TV or on social media," said Immobile, who has
scored 15 times in 54 caps for Italy.

   "I scored twice at the Euro, scored 140 goals in Serie A with Lazio, I've
won the European Golden Shoe... these are things that speak for themselves, I
don't need to say anything."

   Manuel Lazzari scored the other goal in a win which moved Lazio into sixth
place, six points off the Champions League positions having played two games
more than Atalanta.

   Salernitana, who announced three new Covid-19 cases shortly before kick-
off, stay in last place after their 15th defeat of their first season in
Serie A in over two decades.

   They are six points away from 17th-placed Venezia after losing to a team
owned by Claudio Lotito, whose ownership also of Salernitana almost led to
the promoted club being booted out of Serie A until they were saved at the
last minute by new owner Danilo Iervolino.

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