Alvaro Odriozola backed under pressure striker Karim Benzema, describing the Real Madrid striker as the best number nine in the world.
Benzema has faced significant criticism in recent seasons for a lack of goals, but the 30-year-old is Madrid's leading scorer in La Liga this season with five in 14 starts.
He has also managed a further three goals and two assists in five Champions League appearances, helping Santiago Solari's side secure top spot in Group G ahead of Wednesday's match at home to CSKA Moscow.
Odriozola had some high praise when asked to sum up his time working with Benzema this term.
"Before I came here, I already liked him, but now I'm in love with Karim," he told a news conference. "It's incredible to train with him. He's the best number nine in the world.
"It's true that there is criticism, but he has taken on a leadership role in the team."
Odriozola has managed to force his way into regular first-team action under Solari, having played just three times in La Liga during Julen Lopetegui's tenure.
"I'm feeling very good, very comfortable. It was a dream to come here. The work is paying off," he said.
"I have a lot more things to thank Julen for than to reproach him for. The answer was to work more. Now, I have more games, I feel the confidence of Santiago and now I have to return it on the pitch."