Federico Bernardeschi has what it takes to play for Barcelona, according to his Fiorentina teammate Davide Astori, who hopes he will stay in Florence for many years to come.
It was reported by Mundo Deportivo earlier in the week that Barca have already cast a glance at Bernardeschi, who has impressed in the Viola attack this season as a regular starter under Paulo Sousa.
His three goals in four Europa League appearances have helped further the Italian club's progress in that competition, and Astori believes Barca have spotted a player who would fit into their squad well.
However, Astori wants Bernardeschi to remain at Fiorentina and help them be successful over the coming years.
"He's going to be [good enough for Barcelona]," Astori told Gazzetta dello Sport. "We were joking with him about it yesterday, asking him to say 'hi' to [Lionel] Messi from us. He's got talent and the right head on his shoulders, and he's improving gradually. He could make history with Fiorentina, though, and I hope he sticks with us for a while."
One of the stars in Italy's under-21 side, Bernardeschi may also become a candidate for a place in the senior squad for the European Championship next summer.
"Why not?" Astori said. "That would be great, and there are five or six places still up for grabs. I hope to get one of them also."
Bernardeschi and Astori are doing their chances no harm this season, with Fiorentina currently just two points behind Serie A leaders Napoli.
"We can talk about the Scudetto -- it's not a taboo word," Astori said. "Saying it does not do you any bad. It's easy to say, even if the significance of it can be crushing, but we must not have any fear.
"The coach is giving us a philosophy and it is not only the quality of the players which is leading us to victories, but also this mentality. Whoever plays at Fiorentina has got to fight to make the breakthrough. It's got to be like this. We need a leader who can manage us and [Sousa] does that, without getting carried away."