Frank Lampard says England midfielder Mason Mount has been even better than he expected this season.
Mount starred under Lampard when on loan at Derby County last season and has been a regular for the Chelsea this term.
The 20-year-old has started every Premier League game, scoring four goals, and has also forced his way into the international reckoning.
Blues boss Lampard, whose side face Ajax at Stamford in the Champions League on Tuesday, said: “I’m really proud of him. I have seen first hand his quality and also his character.
“Maybe he has exceeded my expectations this season, because I wanted him here for sure and I thought he could get minutes and be good for us.
“But I didn’t realise to quite what level he would settle and produce, so that is all a great story and the next story is his and is up to him.
“I believe in him. He has to work to improve all the time. We think of Mason as an attacking midfield player but he has shown he has both sides and can hopefully get even better.”
Mount has been one of a number of young stars to benefit from the club’s transfer ban and has also taken full advantage of N’Golo Kante’s ongoing injury issues.
Kante is fit again and available to face Ajax, but the form of Mount, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic means Lampard has a tough decision to make.
“N’Golo is huge for us ,” Lampard added. “He is one of the best midfielders in the world and has been for a few seasons so I won’t complain about a nice problem I have with him fit.
“I want competition; we are playing every three or four days at the minute.”