Alvaro Morata deserves to be more than “a bargaining chip” for Real Madrid, according to former Juventus team-mate Giorgio Chiellini.
Madrid confirmed on Tuesday they would exercise the buy-back clause included in the deal that took Morata to Turin in 2014.
However, his future remains unclear with his agent Juanma Lopez having claimed there is still interest from Premier League clubs.
Chiellini is confident Morata can make an impact at the Santiago Bernabeu and hopes he is not used as a pawn by the Spanish giants.
“Alvaro is a special guy. I’m sorry to be greeting him as a former team-mate but I’m happy for him and I hope he stays at Real Madrid,” said the centre-back.
“He deserves to be the nine of Spain and Real Madrid. He does not deserve to be a bargaining chip.
“Over the past two years he has improved so much tactically and on a human level. He has grown a lot.
“When he arrived he was a kid and we are proud to have helped him to grow.”
Italy face Spain in the last 16 of Euro 2016, and Chiellini admitted it will be tough for the Azzurri to break their hoodoo against the European champions at the Stade de France on Monday.
“Spain have been our bogey team since 2008,” he added.
“The beginning of their golden cycle coincided with that win against us [in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals]. It was only in Kiev [at the Euro 2012 final] that we weren’t able to give them a game, we hadn’t been able to recover from our [semi-final] game against Germany.
“Other games have been more balanced and decided by incidents. Twice we went out on penalties [in 2008 and at the 2013 Confederations Cup] and in Fortaleza in the Confederations Cup we deserved to win.
“That’s how the game will be on Monday. I think it will be another balanced, exciting one, where details can make all the difference. There’s mutual respect, and every game is beautiful.
“It’s a shame that it’s in the second round, but it’ll be challenging.”