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Juventus' Paulo Dybala insists 'I don't want to be the new Messi'

Juventus forward Paulo Dybala says he's not looking to be "the new Messi," playing down comparisions between him and his fellow Argentine ahead of his side's Champions League quarterfinal tie against Barcelona.

"People should know that I am Dybala and I want to continue to be so," the Juventus forward told Italian daily La Repubblica. "I understand the comparisons and expectations on me from the Argentines, but I don't want to be the new Messi or the Messi of the future.

"There is only one Messi, like [Diego] Maradona. No one has ever told me that I am his heir."

Dybala and Messi have only played together once -- in Argentina's 1-0 win over Uruguay in September -- and Dybala, who was sent off in that game, said they "haven't had a great relationship."

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"I really admire him. I respect him," Dybala said ahead of Tuesday's first leg in Turin. "He has won many Champions Leagues. I haven't won any and I'm dreaming about the first."

Dybala has had a fantastic two seasons at Juventus since joining from Palermo for €32 million in June 2015.

The 23-year-old forward is currently in the process of thrashing out a new contract, with Juventus expected to extend his deal by one year to 2021 and increase his salary to about the same level as Gonzalo Higuain, which would end speculation over potential moves to Barcelona and other top clubs.

Paulo Dybala celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot against Porto.
Paulo Dybala has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season for Juventus.

Dybala has dropped to a deeper role this season but has nevertheless weighed in with 14 goals and seven assists and is earning plaudits for his understanding with Higuain in their first season together.

Higuain hadn't scored for five matches before netting two against former club Napoli last week as Juventus progressed to the Italian Cup final. And the forward netted another two goals to lead the Bianconeri past Chievo Verona 2-0 in Serie A on Saturday.

Dybala provided the assist for the opening goal, skipping down the right flank before pulling back for his teammate, and also started off the move which led to the second.

"With Gonzalo it's like we've been playing together for five years," Dybala said. "At every training session we try to get to know each other better. On top of that we go out to dinner together and we take this understanding out onto the field, too. But it's easy to do assists for him, with the movements he makes."

Barcelona's Javier Mascherano, another Argentine, said his team will be wary of Dybala and Higuain in the quarterfinals.

"They are both great players and I have the pleasure of knowing them from Argentina and I know how good they are," Mascherano said. "Players like that need special attention because they can change the game at any moment, changing things in one game. So we need to be careful. I would not say I'm scared of them, but I am respectful."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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