Claudio Marchisio feels sympathy for Paulo Dybala, who has been forced into an unfamiliar role at Juventus following the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo.
After nine trophy-laden seasons at Real Madrid, Ronaldo joined ahead of 2018-19 in a €112million deal and has continued his prolific form, scoring 24 goals in 36 appearances across all competitions.
While the Portuguese's productivity has earned Juve a 15-point lead atop Serie A and a place in the Champions League quarter-finals – Ronaldo having netted a second-leg hat-trick to see off Atletico Madrid in the last 16 – Dybala's personal fortunes have waned by comparison.
As the focal point of the side in 2017-18, Dybala rattled in 26 goals but so far this season he has just nine, having been deployed in a wider position to accommodate Ronaldo, while he was left out of the starting XI for that rousing comeback against Atletico.
"Paulo has an innate gift, it's a shame to see him playing so far from the goal," Marchisio, who won seven straight Scudetti with Juve before joining Zenit last year, told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"I remember his first match with Juventus: the Supercoppa versus Lazio. He came in and I said, 'Stay in the opponent's area'. He scored goals".
As for Ronaldo, Marchisio paid tribute to the 34-year-old, whom he believes boasts the body of a track athlete.
"He works a lot, he takes care of every aspect of preparation," Marchisio added. "He is an example. He has an atypical physique for a soccer player, he looks more like a sprinter!"
On his departure from Turin, Marchisio insisted there were no regrets, despite feeling there was an opportunity for him to stay.
"The adventure was at the end, but the market was closing and I thought I would stay. The club decided to terminate the contract, for me it wasn't easy," he said. "With hindsight we could say: there have been so many injuries in midfield, maybe I would have had room.
"But it would have been wrong to stay, I would not have managed another year like the last one. I was hoping for some more opportunities, but I always put the group in front of the individual.
"I gave so much but Juventus also gave me so much. I've no regrets. In football, as in life and in love, there are so many ways to end stories.
"In the end I consider myself lucky for what I had. I lost two Champions League finals but I'm happy to have won seven Scudetti."