Pirlo said: 'Mario has matured since he has been back in Italy. He will be the first to admit when he was younger he made some mistakes - but he is not that player anymore.
'Anybody who still talks about him in that way is living in the past.'The 35-year-old added: 'I have always said that in the right environment he has the potential to be one of the best strikers in Europe.
'He needs to be given space. The media do not need to write a story every time he goes to the shops - the time has come to write only about what he does on the field.'