Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has backed Andreas Christensen to emulate the achievements of former captain John Terry.

Christensen, 21, has moved ahead of David Luiz in the Stamford Bridge pecking order following his impressive performances at the back for the Blues this season.

The Denmark international joined Chelsea from Brondby on a free transfer in 2012. He spent two seasons on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach before returning to Stamford Bridge in the summer.

Conte said Christensen possessed the talent to be a mainstay of Chelsea's defence for many years.

"This is a big comparison – John Terry wrote the history of this club and won a lot," the Blues boss was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.

"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 teammates, for the fans. Every time I decided to give him the opportunity to play, he played with an amazing performance. These performances convinced me that Christensen has to play with regularity."

Andreas Christensen
Andreas Christensen returned to Chelsea in the summer following a loan spell at Borussia Monchengladbach Getty Images

Reports earlier this week claimed Chelsea would open contract talks with Christensen as early as January in order to secure his long-term future.

The Dane has two-and-a-half years left on his Blues contract, worth a reported £35,000 ($47,000) per week, but the club want to extend his deal further to ward off potential suitors.

Blues captain Gary Cahill last week praised Christensen as a natural defender whom he enjoyed playing with.

"You don't have to worry every two minutes what he's doing or what he's up to or telling him to go here or go there. And that's a worrying factor," Cahill was reported as saying by the London Evening Standard.

"I think it's one of the positive things you don't have to do. You feel you can leave him to play his own game."