Portugal legend Pepe believes that Manchester City's Ruben Dias is the best defender the nation currently boasts.
Dias, 23, signed for City from Benfica at the start of the 2020-21 season and immediately found a spot in Pep Guardiola's first-team plans.
The centre-back has missed just two of his side's Premier League outings, while he has become a regular for Portugal since making his debut in 2018.
“Ruben Dias is already the best Portuguese center-back in the world, I have already said that," the ex-Real Madrid star explained to Tribuna Expreso.
"Not only that, but he’s a very smart player as well.”
The pair have played together several times in Portugal colours, striking up a strong understanding despite Pepe being 14 years Dias' senior at 37 years old.
In October the Porto defender said of his compatriot ahead of the Portuguese side's Champions League clash with City: "I have had huge respect for Ruben from the very first day he arrived at the national team.
"He has always been an exemplary player in the team and has shown his character. I was also happy to see him leave for a club like Manchester City, where he will keep progressing and growing."
Dias in turn had great praise for his veteran colleague, expressing his admiration that at 37 he continues to star for club and country.
"It is not normal for a player of Pepe's age to keep up the great performances he has put in," the defender told reporters during the October international break.
"We should be happy that he still has the ability to play at this level.
"There are few greater privileges than being able to have his experience and the opportunity to play alongside him, because of everything he represents, where he played and everything he won.
"I see a great chance to learn every day, every second."
City return to action in the Premier League on Sunday at home to Crystal Palace, having narrowly overcome Brighton in their midweek fixture.
Guardiola's charges currently sit in third place, four points behind leaders Manchester United having played one game fewer.