Antonio Conte hopes Andreas Christensen can have as successful a career with Chelsea as John Terry.
Terry left Chelsea last June after 22 years and 15 major trophies.
He is still the last Chelsea academy product to play regularly in the first team – and many managers have tried and failed to find the next one.
Conte believes 21-year-old defender Christensen can thrive for the London side for some time to come.
“This is a big comparison – John Terry wrote the history of this club and won a lot,” Conte said.
“I wish Christensen to have the same career as John. I think he has the right characteristics to play for this club for many years, to become an important player for this team, for this club.
“Christensen is maybe the best surprise from the start of this season, despite his young age.
“He’s been the best surprise for me, for the club, for his team-mates, for the fans.”
It is not a total surprise. The Denmark international thrived in two years on loan in the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach and has been promoted as the benchmark for Chelsea’s young players.
Conte says he will play his more peripheral players in Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final with Bournemouth.
And that might mean a rest for Christensen, who has displaced David Luiz as Conte’s first choice in the centre of his three-man defence.
Conte would not be drawn on whether Christensen merits a new contract, saying it was a club decision, but praised the defender who signed from Brondby as a 16-year-old in the summer of 2012.
Christensen was thrust into the starting XI when Luiz was dropped for the Premier League clash with Manchester United on November 5 and has retained his place since.
“Every time I decided to give him the opportunity to play, he played with an amazing performance,” Conte added.
“These performances convinced me that Christensen has to play with regularity.”