The Blues coach, who managed Real Madrid in his previous job, thinks Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane ranks alongside the likes of Eden Hazard and Neymar as a potential star of the World Cup this summer.
Mourinho was the man who brought the young French defender to Spain and Varane flourished under his guidance last season.
But the 20-year-old has found game-time harder to come by this season, partly through injury, making the Chelsea coach's comments on him all the more intriguing.
Speaking to Yahoo, Mourinho could have named anyone in his list of potential starlets - but he specifically chose Varane.
“A young player must be somebody who plays in the World Cup for the first time so we cannot choose a player for example who is 23, 24-years-old who has played already because that is not the concept of a young player,” Mourinho said.
“A young player who goes for the World Cup for the first time, I would say [Eden] Hazard for sure, Neymar, Rafa Varane and maybe I forget some others but direct to my mind comes Varane, Neymar and Eden and I apologise if I forgot any other one.
“I think he [Varane] is the best central defender in the world, a young one I think he’s the best. Already, yes. I think he’s the best.”
Could Mourinho be talking the Frenchman up ahead of a summer swoop?
He most certainly could - and he might just be doing so with a long-term view to replace current stalwart John Terry. At 33-years-old, Terry is not a viable option for Chelsea in the long run - but he does still have plenty left in the tank for the next couple of season.
It would make perfect sense for the Blues boss, then, to bring Varane to Stamford Bridge to learn from the Chelsea skipper and train him into the perfect replacement for Terry when he leaves west London.
And why wouldn't he try - if he is the best young defender in the world?
Could Varane be the next Terry for Mourinho?
image: © katabasis