Cristiano Ronaldo remains "the future of Juventus" despite rumours of a possible return to Real Madrid, according to Bianconeri director Fabio Paratici.
Rumours have been building in Spain that Madrid would be prepared to re-sign the Portugal star in the next transfer window, three years on from his €112 million move to Turin.
Those reports were largely fuelled by Juve's Champions League exit to Porto in the last 16, with Ronaldo criticised for his performance in the second leg, particularly when he turned his back in the wall for Sergio Oliveira's decisive free-kick.
Head coach Andrea Pirlo defended the 36-year-old ahead of Monday's (AEDT) league match at Cagliari, insisting: "He has 90 goals in a hundred games for Juventus and has always shown his worth. It can happen that he doesn't score in a certain match, as has happened with others, and this creates rumours."
Paratici, speaking to Sky Sport Italia prior to kick-off, said of the Ronaldo rumours: "It makes me smile.
"I grew up in a small village, and I heard this talk in bars about [Gianni] Rivera, [Sandro] Mazzola, [Michel] Platini and [Roberto] Baggio. I never thought I'd hear them about Ronaldo now.
"We're talking about a footballer who is today the top scorer in Serie A, has five Ballons d'Or and is a privilege for us. He surely represents the future of Juventus."
Ronaldo responded by reaching 23 goals in the Serie A this season with a hat-trick in the first 32 minutes of Monday's game, celebrating his third goal by running to a pitch-side camera and pointing to his ear.
It was the second-fastest hat-trick he has scored in his club career, behind a 20-minute treble he hit for Madrid against Espanyol in September 2015.
The former Manchester United forward has now scored 87 goals for club and country in March, making it his most profitable month.