Paul Pogba made no secret of his admiration for Andrea Pirlo when he played alongside the Italian maestro at Juventus.
The 23-year-old, who has now completed his world-record transfer to Manchester United, described Pirlo as his “hero” two years ago and admitted he felt lucky to be able to call such a gifted footballer his teammate.
That feeling of respect is certainly mutual, judging by Pirlo’s latest comments.
SIGN UP NOW
Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250-word test article: https://gms.to/haveyoursay4
The 37-year-old, who now plies his trade for MLS outfit New York City FC, has given the young central midfielder a glowing reference following his £89 million move to Old Trafford.
Pirlo also reminisced to the first day Pogba joined the Juventus first team for training in 2012.
Pirlo: We couldn't believe United let Pogba go
"I will always remember the first day he had training at Juventus," he was quoted as saying by the Mirror. "He was only young, but we could see he was special.
"There was almost a disbelief that Manchester United had let this player go.”
Pirlo claims Pogba will prove good value for money
Pogba’s astronomical transfer fee has raised plenty of eyebrows - the general consensus amongst football fans appears to be that United have overspent on the Frenchman, but that won’t matter if he helps the Red Devils win silverware over the forthcoming seasons - although Pirlo believes his ex-teammate will ultimately prove to be good value for money.
"A lot of people have a lot to say about what the fee could be and if he's worth it,” the former Italy international continued. “But when you pay a big fee you just have to ask one question - can this player play a big part in us winning trophies?
"If he can do that then it will always be worth it for the buying club.
"We know Pogba can do this and we know he can do it for a lot of years to come."
Pirlo: Transfer fee won't bother Pogba
Pirlo also believes the transfer fee won’t bother Pogba.
"One of the biggest misconceptions is that players care about transfer fees," he added. "For a player they do not care at all. They do not care if they move clubs for one million, 10million, or 100million euros. That is just something a player leaves to his agent and the clubs.
"As a player, you just want to be at a club where you can achieve everything you want to."
Pirlo: Pogba will work hard at United
And Pirlo also reassured United fans that Pogba possesses the mindset of a champion; someone prepared to give his all during training and matches despite having already cemented his reputation as one of the world’s best midfielders.
"He is, of course, a great player, but sometimes with natural ability, some players think that is enough," Pirlo finished.
"That's not the case with him. You are getting a player with a great attitude. He wants to be the best in the world, he wants to learn off the coaches and the senior players. He is hungry to be the best."
Will Paul Pogba live up to his £100m price tag? Have your say by leaving a comment below.