At a time when youngsters find it impossible to break into the first team at Chelsea, Andreas Christensen should now be playing every week. Why? Because the 21-year-old is the outstanding defender of his generation. He is that good.
Christensen has improved on a year-by-year basis, displaying a rare level of talent and maturity that has enabled him to achieve the senior squad recognition that has proven beyond so many of his fellow academy graduates.
The path to the first team at Stamford Bridge is almost impossible to negotiate for youngsters but Chelsea simply had to give Christensen a chance this season. Otherwise, they would have run the risk of losing him to a European rival such as Bayern Munich or Barcelona.
Goal understands that Christensen, having excelled during a two-year loan spell at Borussia Monchengladbach, was initially concerned after receiving the news that Blues boss Antonio Conte wanted to bring him back into the fold at Stamford Bridge for pre-season.
He feared that he wouldn't get enough game time, after seeing his academy peers like Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek seek a move away from the club after becoming exasperated by a lack of first-team football.
At the time, Gladbach were trying desperately to sign the Dane on a permanent basis, with director of sport Max Eberl willing to break the German club's transfer record to sign Christensen.
However, Chelsea knew what they had a potential star on their hands. In truth, they had known that from the first time they had seen him in action, which is why they fought so hard to sign Christensen from Brondby when he was still only 15.
The Blues faced stiff competition for his signature, from Premier League rivals Manchester City and Arsenal, as well as Bayern, but they convinced the youngster that they would offer him the best environment in which to develop as a player.
"I have chosen Chelsea because they play the kind of football I like," Christensen told Ekstra Bladet in February 2012. "At the same time, they have the best plan for my future in football."
His father Sten, a former Brondby goalkeeper who now works for the Danish outfit as a coach, played a key role in the decision to move to west London.
However, Christensen senior made it clear in July of this year that his son had no intention of returning to Stamford Bridge unless he was guaranteed game time.
"[Gladbach's director] Max Eberl was great with Andreas. I will miss going there a lot and so will he," Sten Christensen told Goal. "Max very much wanted him to stay, but the loan deal ended and he will go back to Chelsea.
"Whatever happens, it is important for Andreas to play, he is not content with the bench.
"He is very calm. Andreas just wants to be on the pitch playing. That’s his sole motivation. He doesn’t need to be in the newspapers; he rarely wants to speak with the press. He just wants to play football because he loves it so much."
When the summer transfer window opened, Chelsea already had David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill in their defensive ranks and then added the £34 million defender Antonio Rudiger from Roma.
However, despite his relative lack of Premier League experience - he had made just one previous appearance for the Blues, under Jose Mourinho - Christensen immediately looked right at home alongside such proven performers.
Indeed, his style of play is perfect for Chelsea's three-man defence and he is as good on the ball as any of his first-team rivals. He exudes an air of calm even under the most pressured of situations.
Furthermore, while his incredible ability to read the game means that he is rarely forced into last-ditch tackles, he has quickly come to terms with the physicality required to compete in the Premier League.
Christensen may not be as experienced as some of his peers but he is as experienced as any defender at his age.
While still a teenager, Christensen faced the likes Borussia Dortmund, Bayern, Manchester City, Juventus and Sevilla and his successful spell at Monchengladbach has inspired many of Chelsea's young players to try to follow in his footsteps by going out on loan before trying to crack Conte's senior squad.
Indeed, Chelsea's other great defensive hope, Kurt Zouma, joined Stoke on loan during the summer and will watch on from the stands this weekend as his current club and his parent club collide at the bet365 Stadium.
Having seen Christensen force his way into Conte's starting line-up this season - the Denmark international was excellent in his first start for the club, against Tottenham - the Frenchman will perhaps be wondering if he should have stayed at the Bridge.
In truth, though, Christensen, who is a year younger, is already more skilled and better suited to Conte's style of play than Zouma, even though the former Saint-Etienne starlet has been doing a fine job of convincing everyone of his class at Stoke.
Cahill: "I'd also mention, Andreas Christensen who has come back, stepped in and shown what he is capable of" #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) August 27, 2017
Indeed, while David Luiz's absence through suspension leaves big shoes to fill, Christensen looks more than ready to take another big step on the road to becoming a first-team regular.