Luba Mushtuk danced with Giovanni on his previous tour and they have been close for a number of years
THE secret lover of Strictly Come Dancing professional Giovanni Pernice is jealous of his celebrity partner Debbie McGee.
Luba Mushtuk danced with Giovanni, 27, on his previous tour and they have been close for a number of years.
But his special bond with Debbie, 59, on the BBC One show has sparked rumours of romance.
They were even pictured sharing a kiss after dinner together during rehearsals.
Our Strictly source said: “Luba and Giovanni are together. But she doesn’t like Debbie because of their bond — she feels how much Gio cares for her.
“It’s also upsetting as she would like their romance to be out in the open. Luba is very keen to be on the show one day.
“She assists with choreography. But that means she has to spend a lot of time watching Giovanni rehearse with Debbie which can be uncomfortable for her.”
Giovanni and Debbie have established themselves as firm favourites among the show’s judges and viewers thanks to her natural ability.
But they have also faced criticism over Debbie’s previous experience running her own ballet company.
And there have been further questions over whether judges Shirley Ballas, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Darcey Bussell have “overmarked” her routines.
The Sun’s Strictly columnist James Jordan raised concerns after she received a perfect score of 40. He said: “It sounds like I’m not a fan of Debbie but I love her and think she’s great.
“But being overmarked three weeks in a row is not doing her any favours.”
Bookmaker William Hill makes Debbie the favourite, with odds of 9/2.
She has previously insisted she is just good friends with Giovanni.
Debbie said: “The truth is we really like each other but it isn’t a love affair.
“We love each other, but we are not in love with each other. It’s just one of those very special friendships. He’s 30 years younger than me!”