Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon says Manchester City's Joe Hart has been the world's most in-form gloveman since being dropped by Manuel Pellegrini.
The pair are likely to come face-to-face in Tuesday's Champions League clash at the Etihad Stadium, with Hart having re-established himself as City's number one after being dropped at points over recent seasons.
Hart lost his place briefly to Costel Pantilimon and Willy Caballero following high-profile errors over the past two campaigns but is yet to concede a Premier League goal this term.
And Buffon, long regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers of his generation, feels the England man has benefited as a result of his axing.
"I've been watching his game for a few years now and Joe Hart is now for me one of the top three goalkeepers in the world," he is quoted by The Mirror.
"He had the period where he made some mistakes and was dropped, but he needed that.
"I've always said you need to be a bit of a masochist to be a top goalkeeper and that period would have made Joe that.
"Since his return to the team after being dropped, you won't think of a better goalkeeper in the world.
"It's not just about the saves he makes, but the way he organises with such confidence. He is a real leader."