Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has claimed Juan Mata is already as good as David Silva but admitted it was too soon to compare him with Gianfranco Zola.
Mata has enjoyed a sensational start to life at Stamford Bridge, giving the Blues a new attacking dimension, as well as scoring two goals and laying on three more.
Everton boss David Moyes watched Mata torment his side last weekend and declared the winger was on course to emulate fellow Spaniard Silva, who is widely regarded as the player who makes Manchester City tick. "I think that level has already been reached!" said Villas-Boas of his £23.5million signing from Valencia.
Chelsea fans have been drawing comparisons much closer to home, with some branding Mata the new Zola.
Villas-Boas could understand the sentiment, saying: "Well, yes, because he's a historical Chelsea player who represents lots for our fans. But it's still a long, long process. This is only the beginning."
Zola was already 30 when he joined Chelsea, meaning Mata has plenty of time to try to emulate the extraordinary standards set by the Italian.
Villas-Boas said: "It depends on whether you keep yourself injury-free. At the moment, everything is working pretty good for him.
"He took a minimum time to adapt, which is excellent news for us but the future depends on how he continues to perform and continues to compete, hopefully to the excellent standard he is showing."
He added: "He's a player who likes to find different spaces to receive the ball and he finds correct spaces.
"His dynamism of movement allows the other players to find him in different positions for the benefit of the squad. I would say that his individual characteristics have brought these kinds of movements to our game."