Andreas Christensen would have been an automatic starter in Chelsea's backline even if the club had signed Virgil van Dijk in the January transfer window, former Blues midfielder Frank Lampard has claimed.
Christensen, 21, joined Chelsea from Danish club Brondby in 2012 but spent two years on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach.
He returned to Stamford Bridge last summer and has been a near-permanent fixture in Antonio Conte's defence, keeping the more experienced David Luiz out of the starting line-up.
Lampard praised Christensen's qualities and said the young Dane would have been one of the first names in Conte's team sheet even if Chelsea had signed Van Dijk in the January window.
Liverpool ended up winning the race to sign Van Dijk from Southampton last month for £75m ($105m) – a world record transfer fee for a defender.
"Even if Van Dijk had come in, the player Christensen is, he'd have handled anything," Lampard told the London Evening Standard.
"You put a team around those players even at his age. He wouldn't have had a problem whoever they signed.
"I trained with him a fair bit when I was still there. We were all very aware of his abilities. He came over to join in senior sessions when he was 16 and was very impressive.
"Some young players were not ready for the increase in speed of the game, to make decisions and choices on the ball when they were invited to join in.
"But even at that young age you could see he had a composure and an awareness about him that made him fit straight in."
Lampard said Christensen's rise to the Chelsea first-team would offer hope to other young players at the club and the various academy players on loan at other clubs around Europe.
The former England midfielder also ruled out the chance of the Blues selling Christensen for any price.
"At his age and with the talent he's got, he is worth an awful lot of money," Lampard said.
"Chelsea have signed him to a long-term contract so you can put whatever figure you want on it. But they are never going to sell him. He is not going anywhere."
Christensen signed a new four-and-a-half-year contract at Stamford Bridge last month.