In a season of big signings but mixed selections, Mason Mount has survived and thrived under both of Chelsea’s managers, and continues to be the constant in a team full of foreign stardom, writes Adam Walton.
In the summer transfer window of 2020, Chelsea outspent every club in the world, by a distance. The array of
predominantly attacking talent, including Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, and Hakim Ziyech, made the already pricey
squad appear more suited to a FIFA career mode than anything grounded in reality. Talk of title contention
began to buzz, as the internet filled with predicted Chelsea line-ups. Few, if any, of the prospective team sheets
included Mason Mount, the 22-year-old Chelsea academy graduate who had broken into the first team in the
prior season. It appeared the boy from Portsmouth was to endure a turgid season, lost in the wake of Roman
Abramovich’s frivolous spending.
This season, it is safe to say, hasn’t gone as predicted for Chelsea. Under Frank Lampard, the team suffered the
same problems they did last season: an inability to defend set-pieces or counter-attacks, and a lack of clear plan
when going forward. Whilst the Blues failings remained consistent, so did the presence of Mount’s name on
Lampard’s team sheets. This isn’t to say Mount was at fault. On the contrary, while the big name signings
floundered, the young Brit continued to put in impressive performances, no matter what strange positions he and
his teammates were put in by the increasingly panicked Lampard.
As a potential title challenge was replaced by mid-table frustration, Lampard was in turn replaced by Thomas
Tuchel. Again questions were raised about Mount’s ever-presence in the team. With Tuchel being German, it
was only logical that he would unlock the potential of fellow countrymen Werner and Havertz (because everyone
with the same nationality automatically agree with each other, obviously). Was Mount, a favourite of Lampard’s
due to their time together at Derby County, about to be scorned? A teacher’s pet soon to be sent to the naughty
Well, no. Mount, but for a snubbing in Tuchel’s first game, has started every game under the German. His
performances certainly validate his selection; Mount is Chelsea’s brightest attacking player, providing the link
between an industrious but unspectacular midfield pairing and whatever forward has been plucked from the
Chelsea stables on any given day. He also scored the winning goal against Liverpool, and spent the game
running counter-attacks from the half space on Chelsea’s right.
Mount is evidently a stubbornly competitive character, raising his game dependent on the level of those fighting
for his position. However, this shouldn’t be surprising. It’s this attitude that saw the Brit escape the infamous
Chelsea loan system merry-go-round. He’s also resisted the curse Chelsea put on promising British midfielders
(see Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-cheek and Danny Drinkwater). Perhaps it’s his early-2000s soul-patch facial
hair that’s fooled everyone into thinking he’s thirty two. Or maybe, despite the doubters, he’s actually a good
player. One thing’s for certain, if any of the big names in Chelsea’s squad want to take Mason Mount’s spot,
they’ve got a fight on their hands.