AC Milan legend Andrea Pirlo has insisted that summer signing Leonardo Bonucci should not be expected to immediately make the Rossoneri as dominant as former team Juventus, but believes the centre-back remains one of the very best defenders in Europe.
"It's normal that Bonucci does not make Milan like Juventus for now. They cannot expect that so soon," quoted as saying after speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport.
The 30-year-old has struggled for form at times this season, with Milan struggling to keep pace with the top four in Serie A, despite spending close to €200m during the summer.
Yet Pirlo, who was an international colleague of Bonucci's for five years, as well as a former team-mate at club level at Juventus, still has faith in the player's ability.
"He is the best defender in Italy and one of the strongest in Europe," the midfielder said.
As for the Milan team as a whole, New York City's Pirlo, who plans to retire at the end of the current Major League Soccer season, doesn't wish to see coach Vincenzo Montella dismissed.
"He has a new team. It takes time and confidence even if the results do not come right away," the 2003 and 2007 Champions League winner declared.
Others, however, aren't so kind about Milan. Ex-Sampdoria and Juventus striker Gianluca Vialli believes that the summer recruitment of certain players was poor and that effort and resources should have been focused on different targets instead.
"If I was Milan's leadership, I would not have signed [Nikola] Kalinic or [Hakan] Calhanoglu, just like I wouldn't André Silva. I would spend all that money on Andrea Belotti for the attack," he is quoted as saying after an interview on Sky Italia.