Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri considers Marcos Alonso to be the best left-back in Europe and sees no reason why he cannot become the world’s finest in his chosen position.
The Spaniard has made rapid progress since linking up with the Blues in a £24 million ($31m) deal back in 2016.
He quickly established himself as a key component in Antonio Conte’s side at Stamford Bridge, with the Italian deploying him in a wing-back role.
Sarri believes there could be even more to come, with the 27-year-old having contributed one goal and two assists to the Chelsea cause in 2018-19.
The Blues boss said after seeing a man he has pushed back into a more defensive role star in a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth: “Alonso, at the moment, this position at left-back is maybe the best in Europe.
“Physical qualities at a top level, I think. He's doing very well in the offensive phase.
“But I also think he can improve in the defensive phase. If he improves that, he could be the best left-back in the world.”
Sarri added on Chelsea’s performance against the Cherries as a collective, with a fourth successive Premier League win having been secured: “I am happy with the result and I am happy with the performance.
“It was a very difficult game. They are very organised defensively, and defended very well.
“The first half, the situation was difficult. Maybe we needed to move the ball at another speed, and maybe more movements without the ball. But in this kind of match, usually you can win in the last 20-25 minutes. So I was always confident.
“I think that now for us it is better to think about the next match.
“The gap at the beginning [to last season’s champions Manchester City] was 30 points. I think it's very difficult to recover this gap in only one season.
“I'm very happy with the four matches, but I think only, starting from now, about the next match. Not until the end of the season.”
Sarri is likely to have to tinker with his plans as the season progresses, with the Italian having already taken to shuffling his attacking pack – with Alvaro Morata once again taken off against Bournemouth to be replaced by Olivier Giroud.
“It depends upon the situation on the pitch,” Sarri said of the selection issues he faces with two strikers short on goals.
“At the moment, we crossed three, four, five times, so I thought Giroud, in that moment, was better.
“It depends upon the situation. Alvaro is improving. Maybe he needs more space, but I am lucky because, in this situation, Giroud is very useful.”