Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri hailed Daniele Rugani as the best young player in Italian football as he continues to be linked with a reunion with the Juventus defender.
Sarri, formerly coach at Empoli who co-owned Rugani, handed the youngster his debut as an 18-year-old.
Serie A champions Juve bought Rugani's full registration rights in February, although he remained on loan at Empoli until the end of last season.
However, he has made just one appearance for Massimiliano Allegri's side this term, that coming as a late substitute in a 2-0 win over Sevilla in the Champions League in September.
That has led to rumours that Rugani will once again link up with Sarri at Stadio San Paolo, and the Napoli coach made no secret of his admiration for the defender.
"For me it is Rugani [who is the best young Italian player]," he told Corriere dello Sport.
"He has excellent capabilities and concentration. I gave him his debut as an 18-year-old.
"He will be a very important player for the future of Italian football."