Federico Chiesa is a "prototype of a great champion" who can use his performance against Milan as a "starting point" to display his qualities for Juventus, says Andrea Pirlo.
Juve signed forward Chiesa on loan from Fiorentina in October in a move the Serie A champions can make permanent for a reported fee of €50million if certain conditions are met.
A red card on debut against Crotone was part of an inauspicious start to life at the Allianz Stadium for Chiesa, but there has been a marked improvement in recent games.
That culminated in a star showing in Juve's 3-1 win at leaders Milan in midweek, a match in which Chiesa scored twice.
Since the start of last season, Chiesa has been thoroughly impressive against the best teams in the league. In that time, he has had a hand in three goals against Milan (two scored, one assisted) and Atalanta (two scored, one assisted) and also scored in meetings with Inter, Napoli and Lazio.
For Juve this season, he has four goals and three assists from 11 top-flight appearances, while he ranks seventh for the Bianconeri in terms of chances created (15).
When it comes to 'big chances' created - from which Opta would expect a goal to be scored - only Alvaro Morata (seven) has more than his tally of six, while his passing accuracy is at just over 80 per cent.
For Pirlo, there was never any doubt about Chiesa's talent.
"I'm not surprised by Chiesa," he said when previewing Juve's home clash with Sassuolo on Sunday.
"I knew his qualities and I wanted him. He can still improve a lot, he is young, he is a prototype of a great champion.
"He has to improve himself match after match. San Siro must be a starting point."
In Sassuolo, Juve face a team who have impressed in the first half of the campaign and sit just two points adrift of the top four in sixth place.
Pirlo spoke of his respect for coach Roberto De Zerbi, who like him hails from Brescia.
"Sassuolo are an excellent team, they've been playing together for a while," he added.
"The coach is very good at constructing the game. It will be a difficult match, we can't let them go without pressure from us.
"I have a good relationship with De Zerbi, he is from Brescia, like me. He has had a good journey; we talk often about football. There are young and good coaches also abroad, everyone follows his own path."