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."