Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio is as good as England pair Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, according to Marcello Lippi.
It was Lippi who first called Marchisio into the Italy fold in August 2009 for a friendly against Switzerland, and the 25-year-old was often a starter in the coach's last year in charge of Gli Azzurri.
However, Lippi believes he has come on in leaps and bounds since then.
"He's become world class, at the same level as the top midfielders in Europe," the 63-year-old told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "When I first called him up to the national team I expected him to be as such, like Lampard or Gerrard, players who know how to show their strengths in front of goal."
Juve are top of Serie A and unbeaten this season, although, unlike their main rivals, Antonio Conte's side do not have to juggle domestic and European commitments. And that is one of the reasons Lippi believes they could land the Scudetto.
He said: "It's due to their signings, the return to his best of [Gianluigi] Buffon, Marchisio's explosion, their rediscovered self-confidence, the ability of the coach, the boost the new stadium has given them, the competitiveness of the league and the fact they're not in Europe."
Another reason is the aquisition of Andrea Pirlo on a free transfer from AC Milan in the summer.
"Pirlo was an exceptional siging," said Lippi. "I speak to the lads and they tell me that, with respect to previous years, it gives them more peace of mind to have a point of reference in midfield to whom they can pass the ball, knowing he will keep it safe even with three players around him."