Inter coach Antonio Conte has praised Barcelona's Arturo Vidal amid transfer speculation linking the midfielder with a move to the Nerazzurri.
The pair worked together for three years at Juventus, winning three successive Scudetto together at the Allianz Stadium.
Recent outbursts about his lack of squad depth, particularly in midfield, have fuelled rumours linking Conte with a move for the Chilean, and the 50-year-old sought to praise the Barcelona star when asked about a possible reunion.
During an interview with Sky Sports Italia following his side's 2-1 victory over SPAL, Conte hailed Vidal's attitude and commitment during their stint in Turin.
“I had the pleasure of coaching him when he wasn’t at the top level yet because he came to Juve from Leverkusen, I worked there for three years and he’s a player who always gave me everything, just like the players are giving me everything today," he said.
After his side's 3-2 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in early November - a game in which they led 2-0 at half-time - Conte blasted Inter's hierarchy for failing to strengthen their squad adequately during the summer transfer window.
The Italian picked out Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella as two players whose inexperience shouldn't be solely relied on as Inter look to juggle European and domestic duties.
As a result, Vidal - who has featured sporadically for Barca this term - has been strongly linked with a move to San Siro come January. However, Conte seemed less frustrated after his team's weekend victory that sent them top of the Serie A table following Juventus' 2-2 draw with Sassuolo.
"We’re still struggling with depth in some areas of the squad but I’m getting great answers from everyone," he added. "I prefer to talk about this, about those who are called into question and who respond to the task. The team talks about the market if and when it will be done and how it will be done. Right now, it’s not right to talk about the transfer market. It would be disrespectful against my players."
Inter's 2-1 victory on Sunday means they now sit one point clear of Juventus and have picked up a staggering 37 points from 14 matches, a feat that was not lost on the Inter coach.
“We’ve been working since the first game to try to annoy the teams at the top of the table, I think we’re doing a great job but as I said it’s been 14 games and being back in the lead must fill us with pride, because we know the path we have undertaken to achieve 37 points," Conte said.