Exclusive - Tottenham Hotspur are continuing to scour Europe for central defenders, with Sassuolo's Gian Marco Ferrari among the options being looked at ahead of the January transfer window.
Spurs currently have five centre-back options, with regular first-choice pairing Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier supported by Davinson Sanchez, Joe Rodon and 21-year-old academy graduate Japhet Tanganga.
However, a muscular injury has ruled Alderweireld out of action until mid-December, while Sanchez has struggled to impress at times this season.
Rodon shone in the goalless draw with Chelsea on Sunday, though Mourinho was keen to stress after the game just how junior the 23-year-old Welshman is at the top level, comparing his own resources at Spurs to those of the Blues.
"We are not even in the [title] race so we are not a horse," Mourinho said. "We are the small, young horse - a pony. We are just a pony, and you see the difference.
"Joe Rodon was playing for Swansea; Thiago Silva was for many years and still is one of the best centre-backs in the world. And maybe one month of Thiago's salary pays Joe a year's salary. So, calm."
A source has told 90min that Mourinho wants to upgrade his options in defence and ideally would like a left-footed player. However, while Daniel Levy is willing to sanction a deal – Spurs do not want to spend more than £15m.
Tottenham's recruitment team are now looking at whether they can find someone in that price bracket and have picked out a couple of players they believe could be viable in the January market.
28-year-old Ferrari is one player the club are keeping tabs on. The defender is currently starring for Serie A surprise package Sassuolo – and has played all nine games of the club's 2020/21 campaign so far.
Ferrari was called up by Italy back in 2018 without playing, and was brought back into the senior set-up for the games against Estonia, Poland and Bosnia earlier in November.
The former Sampdoria star is under contract until 2023, but he was linked with a host of clubs in the summer with Roma, Napoli and Everton all interested.
It is understood that Tottenham’s likely budget of £15m would be enough to persuade Sassuolo to sell, who themselves have been hit hard by the current financial situation brought on by the pandemic.
In addition to Ferrari, Tottenham also maintain an interest in China-based South Korean defender Kim Min-jae – though it is believed they are putting that off until next summer.
Borussia Dortmund’s Dan-Axel Zagadou had also been looked at earlier this year and is a player Spurs rate very highly. However, he is currently sidelined with a knee injury and it seems doubtful that he would be available.