The armband may have come as a surprise to some, but Mason Mount and his performances in a stuttering Chelsea side have stood out imposingly from the rest. Ironically, in the season that followed a transfer ban and an over-reliance on Chelsea’s youngsters, it is the latter who kept Frank Lampard’s reign intact for so long.
This continued reliance was highlighted by a Tammy Abraham hat-trick, an impressive cameo and assist from the bench from Callum Hudson-Odoi, and a captain’s performance by example against Luton in the FA Cup.
No Shortcuts for Mason Mount
It has been a seismic rise to the first team in recent years for the progressive midfielder. Joining Chelsea at six-years-old, and via a diversion to Vitesse in the Eredivisie, and Derby County for the 2018-19 season, Mount has now firmly etched his name into the Chelsea starting eleven.
Chelsea’s teamsheet is not the only place you can find Mount’s name etched for what could be an eternity. During a Europa League fixture against Lazio for Vitesse, Mount registered eight Key Passes in a 1-1 draw. Yes, eight, which is the most from any teenager in the competition’s history. In the record books at 18-years-old, the eagle-eyed amongst us may have plotted his path to the first team.
However, Chelsea Football Club do things differently. Lucas Piazon’s recently-ended ten-year spell with Chelsea rarely saw him at the Cobham training ground or Stamford Bridge. Seven loan spells littered his stay with the Blues, including stints with Vitesse, Malaga, Eintracht Frankfurt, Reading, and Fulham.
The knock-on effect of success and a plethora of riches at Roman Abrahmovic’s football club tends to cast a shadow on emerging youngsters. So, to say Mount was destined for an established Chelsea career would have been a little wide of the mark. He vacated the cosy South London settings and grafted to get to where he is today. The Chelsea man has faced criticism, muscled his way into the England senior setup, held his own amongst big-money signings, and performed to a level to warrant the captaincy.
Captaining Chelsea’s Under18’s to retain the FA Youth Cup was an accomplishment to shout home about for Mount. Pulling on the armband in the Stamford Bridge dressing room for the fourth round of the FA Cup is another feat entirely.
‘Pivotal to Chelsea’s System’
“As a Chelsea fan myself, I’ve not been especially surprised to see that Mount of all the academy graduates has gone on to thrive where others such as Fikayo Tomori have struggled. A lack of consistency is often used to slight young players, but Mount has excelled in this regard. Frank Lampard’s tenure endured many highs and lows. With rotation at the very forefront of Lampard’s struggles to finesse a coherent tactical identity.
“It is, therefore, a testament to Mount’s attitude that he has remained a constant figure in Lampard’s starting XI. His performance levels aside, Mount has applied himself both on and off the field growing into his role and leading by example whilst still only 22. Having taken the captaincy against Luton, there is no doubt in my mind that Mount will take up this role on a more permanent basis in the future.”
Featuring in 18 of Chelsea’s 19 Premier League games this season alongside a starring role in Europe, Mount grew into a focal piece of Lampard’s set up.
Sam described just why Lampard stuck with the young Englishman, despite competition for places, constant rotation, and criticism;
“Mason Mount is pivotal to Chelsea’s system. He offers the energy, versatility and consistency that make him a dream for any manager. His ability to break up play in the transition and lead the press is spectacular. And his passing range allows him to be progressive in possession.
“He has also started to pick up positions in and around the area, and in time he will add more goals to his game. Ultimately though it’s his tireless mentality which will ensure he becomes a staple at the club for years to come.”
Capable of playing as a 10, in a midfield two or three, or more advanced in wide areas, Mason Mount should be the first on Tomas Tuchel‘s team sheet. He has the ability to help the team wherever needed, equipped with a dogged nature and a penchant for receiving the ball and progressing up the pitch.
Mount, like all top drawer midfielders, seemingly plays with eyes in the back of his head. His awareness allows him to receive possession in tight areas and move the team forward or pick a pass. Mount’s versatility is underpinned by such traits and provides the tools to get out of uncomfortable situations in various areas of the pitch.
Once in possession, Mount is adept at getting his head up and picking out a teammate in blue. In the Premier League this season, Only Jack Grealish (61), Kevin De Bruyne (54), and Bruno Fernandes (54) have registered more Key Passes than Mount, who sits on 49.
Mount’s output follows a similar trajectory whilst out of possession, due to his tenacious work rate and want to aid the team. Players who boast such lofty creative numbers and can also mix it defensively are worth their weight in gold in the modern game. Mount again musters up an impressive fourth in the Premier League’s rank for Pressures against an opposing player with or receiving the ball. In this instance, Mount stands behind Pierre Højbjerg(357), James Mcarthur(348), and Bruno Fernandes(346), with 345 pressures.
Lampard, perhaps the best midfielder of his generation at finding the ball at his feet in the box has encouraged similar in Mount’s game. It’s not to difficult to imagine that the longer Mount had under his former manager’s tutelage, the more rounded his game would have become in terms of registering on the scoresheet.
Enriched with attributes that suggest performances that lead by example, it is evident why Mason Mount captained Chelsea against Luton, and why supporters are calling for it to be a permanent fixture at their beloved club.
But will the new man in Chelsea’s dugout be of the same opinion?
Words and Graphic by Sam Ingram – @SamIngram_
Insight from Sam Tabuteau – @TabuteauS