Real Madrid's Raphael Varane is the best defender in world football, according to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho, who re-joined Chelsea from Real in the close-season, installed Varane as a regular in the starting XI at the Bernabeu last term, with the France centre-back earning praise for his composed defensive performances.
The 20-year-old has been troubled by persistent knee problems in recent times but played 90 minutes for his country in a 2-0 win over the Netherlands on Wednesday.
Reports have suggested that Chelsea could move to reunite Varane with Mourinho, who was glowing in his praise of the former Lens man.
Varane is likely to be selected for France's squad for the FIFA World Cup in June, and Mourinho believes he will go to Brazil as the best player at his position.
"I would say (Eden) Hazard for sure, Neymar, Rafa Varane," Mourinho said when asked who were the young players to watch at the World Cup in an interview after being unveiled as Yahoo's global ambassador for football 2014.
"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."
One young French defender already likely to play for Chelsea next term is Kurt Zouma, who signed a £12million deal in January, but was loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the remainder of the campaign.
Mourinho also hinted that he could link up with Italy international Mario Balotelli for a second time.
The Portuguese worked with Balotelli at Inter, and did not rule out working with the striker, who has been linked with an exit from Milan at the end of the season, once again.
"In football you never know the future," Mourinho added.
"Balotelli is with a big club at the moment but you never know the future.
"They want to keep the best players and want to keep the best Italian players. But Mario has already been in English football before.
"I'm not going to be manager of Milan or the Italy national team, but he's a good kid and somebody I'd like to work with again."
|Coach: V. Koutsakis|
for M. Adamaki 63'
for S. Pelekouda 74'
for A. Papadopoulou 80'
|Valdes enjoying football again after injury nightmare|
|Emotional Cha retires ´a happy man´|
|Dortmund´s Kirch suffers knee injury|
|Newcastle need to be mentally prepared, says Williamson|
|Leno ´knows nothing´ of Real interest|
|Tunisia to compete in AFCON after apology|
|Van der Vaart not allowing future to affect his game|
|Vlaar: Sherwood has reduced stress levels|
|Roma hit by Gervinho hamstring blow|
|Jones optimistic over Everton´s strike partnership|
|Milik sustains knee ligament damage|
|Georgia fear stadium closure for Scotland clash|
|Zamparini: Juventus and Arsenal have bid for Dybala|
|South Korea 1 New Zealand 0: Lee nets late winner|
|Japan 5 Uzbekistan 1: Five-star hosts maintain Halilhodzic start|
|European clubs benefit from UEFA agreement|
|Vassell: Sky is the limit for Kane|
|Manchester United move would be an ´honour´ for Coentrao|
|Insigne out to bolster Napoli season after lay-off|
|Rooney warns Kane over ´clever´ Italy defenders|
|Rangers results reveal £500,000 Newcastle clause|
|Southampton announce £33.4m profit|
|´I am a very flexible man´ - Van Gaal|
|A-League Preview: Top spot up for grabs|
|Portugal - Cape Verde Preview: Andre and Oliveira eager for international bows|
|Puerto Rico 0 Canada 3: Floro´s men rout hosts|
|Xavi denies Al Sadd link|
|Fernando´s life ban upheld by CAS|
|Argentina - Ecuador Preview: Messi remains doubtful for friendly|
|Falcao equals Colombia´s all-time scoring record|
|Macedonia trip good learning curve - Postecoglou|
|Macedonia 0 Australia 0: Stalemate in Skopje|
|Del Bosque not out for Netherlands revenge|
|Burton Albion 1 Stevenage 1: Both teams score at wrong end in draw|
|Pekerman: I have no say on Falcao´s Manchester United future|
|Buffon has studied England new boy Kane|
|Conte urges patience from Italy fans|
|Johnson tasked with keeping Cheltenham up|
|Rooney not keen on Serie A switch|
|Kane to make first England start|
|Colombia 3 Kuwait 1: Spot-on Falcao equals Iguaran record|
|Goal-shy Barkley eyes striker´s role|
|UEFA opens disciplinary proceedings against Montenegro and Russia|
|Draxler and Choupo-Moting back in training|
|Ghana v Mali: Last chance to impress before Giresse return|
|Wilson: Gibraltar getting stronger|
|Mata confident of Spain future|
|Armenia coach Challandes resigns|
|Hiddink rubbishes talk of Dutch negativity|
|Portugal v Cape Verde: Santos set to rotate|
|Loren hails Moyes for Sociedad surge|
|Cruyff brands Netherlands ´a disgrace´|
|Kick It Out backs Barnes over race comments|
|Argentina v Ecuador: Messi remains doubtful for friendly|
|Coates backs Hughes ambition at Stoke|
|Atletico able to call on Saul again|
|Italy v England Preview: Kane set to start after dream debut|
|Zidane would accept Real job|
|Hernandez frustrated by lack of Real opportunities|
|Spartak donate money to 102-year-old fan after robbery|
|Clasie pulls out of Netherlands squad|
|Italy´s Bertolacci out of England friendly|
|Newcastle post record profit as Ashley debt stays the same|
|Al Sadd: We want Xavi to bring tiki-taka|
|Lacazette expected frosty Saint-Etienne reception|
|Barnes: I can´t get back into management because I´m black|
|Rooney praises England aggression|
|Southgate tips Kane for return to U21s|
|Mexico v Paraguay: Goals in order for Copa America aspirants|
|Netherlands - Spain Preview: Wijnaldum rallies behind under-fire Hiddink|
|Peru v Venezuela: Sanvicente wants Venezuelan response|
|Carvalho confident of playing Juventus|
|Neymar demands protection after Medel stamp|
|MLS Review: RSL, Fire secure breakthrough wins|
|Firmino firmly on radar - Dunga|
|O´Neill delighted with second-half display|
|First-half dominance pleases Deschamps|
|Muller criticises Germany profligacy|
|Euro 2016 Qualifying Review: Portugal go top, Gibraltar make history in defeat|
|Liverpool the only English club I could play for - Suarez|
|France 2 Denmark 0: Lacazette off the mark in routine victory|
|Republic of Ireland 1 Poland 1: Long rescues vital point|
|Portugal 2 Serbia 1: Coentrao puts hosts top of Group I|
|Strachan hails ´terrific´ Gibraltar|
|Lafferty back playing with a smile on his face - O´Neill|
|Toure to reveal Ivory Coast future over coming days|
|Georgia 0 Germany 2: Reus and Muller on target for world champions|
|Northern Ireland 2 Finland 1: Lafferty inspires fourth qualifying success|
|Scotland 6 Gibraltar 1: Casciaro´s historic moment outshone by Fletcher´s hat-trick|
|France 2-0 Denmark: Lacazette and Giroud on target|
|Firmino hopeful of Copa America spot|
|Hummels considering options at Dortmund|
|Suarez goalless on Anfield return, but Balotelli nets stunner|
|Casciaro scores first competitive goal for Gibraltar|
|Fleetwood Town 1 Preston North End 1: Ball stunner claims share of derby spoils|
|Italy v England: Judge me on results, says Conte|
|Colombia v Kuwait: Falcao seeking another strong showing|
|Brazil 1 Chile 0: Firmino settles scrappy affair|
|Luxembourg v Turkey: Let´s kick on, urges Terim|
|South Africa 1 Nigeria 1: Zungu strikes late to earn draw|
|Smalling wants long-term United stay|
|South Africa 1-1 Nigeria: Last-gasp Zungu goal cancels out Musa strike|
|Italy call up Santon and Abate for England friendly|
|Switzerland v United States: Klinsmann eyes learning curve|
|Netherlands v Spain: Hiddink has players´ support, says Wijnaldum|
|A-League Review: Sydney end Wellington run, Adelaide suffer injury blows in Jets win|
|Henderson eyes long-term Liverpool future|
|I have nothing to prove - Bale|
|Brazil 1-0 Chile: Firmino gives Selecao battling victory|
|South Korea v New Zealand: All Whites looking to future|
|Japan v Uzbekistan: Hosts eye another win under Halilhodzic|
|MLS Review: Kaka nets in Orlando draw|
|Mexico 1 Ecuador 0: Hernandez, Corona help Herrera´s men to victory|
|Deschamps calls for France response|
|Dunga unfazed by pressure|
|Montenegro fan turns himself in after flare incident|
|Injured Messi not ready - Martino|
|Hodgson: Rooney not close to Charlton|
|Terim proud of Turkey|
|Hiddink happy with point|
|Euro 2016 Qualifying Review: Netherlands and Italy stage late escapes|
|Debutant Eder delighted with Azzurri bow|