With each game and every goal, Nicolas Jackson is living up to the fantastic potential Mauricio Pochettino has known about all season – and the Chelsea head coach could not be happier.

After joining from Villarreal in the summer, the Senegal international scored eight goals in his first 24 games in all competitions.

And the 22-year-old’s form has continued to improve throughout the campaign as his one-in-three record has become one-in-two after bagging nine goals in his last 18 games in all competitions.

There is a lot more to the forward’s game than goals though, as his running in behind, dribbling and hold-up play continue to cause opposition defenders problems.

Jackson’s performances have been drawing praise from pundits and fans alike in recent weeks, something Pochettino was asked about yesterday.

He said: ‘I think Nico has the potential to be a very, very good striker, a fantastic striker. It is only about patience and time.

‘He got criticism from the beginning because he was always compared with Didier Drogba after he had been here a few years. And when I talk about the history of the club, it is the same... we are in the process of building a team to match the history of Chelsea.’

He continued: ‘To judge and be so radical with your opinions, be careful because it is about seeing what is going on and what we are doing here.

‘With Nico, through confidence and through working really hard, he is changing opinions.

‘I accept, if you are seeing things that you do not like then you can describe it but because football is so dynamic and can change, I am so happy that people are now seeing Nico in the way we saw him [earlier in the season].’

Jackson’s match-winning header against Nottingham Forest on Saturday was followed by the forward jumping into the crowd to celebrate with the fans.

As expected, Jackson was subsequently booked by the referee and whilst some head coaches would have been disappointed by their player picking up a yellow card for a celebration, Pochettino was the opposite.

He said: ‘I am so happy about that [celebration] because I enjoy it when the fans enjoy it with the players. For me, it is more [important] than the relationship with the coach.

‘We need to create things where the fans really love the players because they are the principal actors.’

He continued: 'With Nico, we backed him and we gave everything to be calm and work hard because we knew the capacity and quality he has and because he has the time to show it.

‘We are so happy and so proud this happened.’

Pochettino was also asked about two more of his 2023 signings, Enzo Fernandes and Moises Caicedo.

Enzo has missed Chelsea’s four-match unbeaten run due to groin surgery and with the team’s improved performances, Pochettino was asked if the Argentine and Caicedo ‘can play together’.

‘Of course,’ Pochettino replied. ‘It is a little bit unlucky for Enzo because the team is starting to show more maturity [since dropping out of the team] but Enzo is a fantastic player who could fit in any team in the world – he is a world champion.

‘There is no doubt that he will become stronger with one more year’s experience. He knows what we expect from him and there is no doubt that he will be fantastic for Chelsea.’

Caicedo has been among several Blues players whose form has continued to improve as the season has progressed.

And excitingly for supporters, Pochettino believes the best is yet to come from the 22-year-old.

Pochettino said: ‘I expect more from him. Even if he is doing well, next season I have no doubt that he will be much better because now he knows what it means to play for Chelsea. All the pressure will be off.

‘The good thing is that 99% of the players – because it is impossible to say 100% - really believe in the way that we work and they agree in the way we want to apply our philosophy and the way we want to play.

‘That is fantastic. The idea is to have players who really trust and who really believe. That is why for sure the future will be amazing and he is one of the players who still have room to improve.’