Mason Mount. A player that demonstrates a divide in opinion like no other. Privately his doubters will probably admit that he’s performed above their expectations so far this season, and for his vocal supporters, they have been well rewarded with two well-taken goals in the Premier League against both Leicester and Norwich.
Perhaps too early to call if his ambitious rebuttal to his father of, “I’ll be the next one” in response to the realisation of not a single academy product breaking into Chelsea’s first team on a regular basis since John Terry. However, it’s not premature to appreciate and reflect on the rise that has seen Mount named in Gareth Southgate’s most recent England Squad.
What’s important to note is the upcoming games are competitive. European Championship qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo and whilst England are expected to win such games, the disappointing Nations League performance in the summer will have Southgate taking these games seriously. Much like his opportunities in the Chelsea side this season, this call up was earned. Mount certainly didn’t win these appearances in a cereal box and his career so far is a testament to that. From taking the mantle in a talented Dutch league and guiding Vitesse to 6th place with 14 goals and 9 assists. An impressive return from a 19-year-old moving aboard for the first time. To most recently last season going on loan to Derby and contributing 9 goals and 4 assists despite multiple injury setbacks, whilst being involved in a highly pressurised winning penalty shootout at Old Trafford and a promotion push. This wealth of experience at age 20 means this isn’t his first England call up, in fact making the squad in October 2018 and on the fringes of the squad ever since. Well until now….
Why? Well, Mount is almost a throwback of a midfielder modelling his game around the previous generation of midfielders. He would have grown up watching England and the likes of Lampard, Gerrard and Scholes in his early years. With possession-based football now very much the epicenter of successful teams these days, the template set by the likes of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, English football and the National team have looked to follow but tweak this ideology.
So why is Mount rated so highly by his peers and coaches? Why does he fit into the modern game despite not being your typical Bernardo Silva creative midfielder? Well, there’s a whole host of reasons.
Firstly he has already shown, not just this season but in the previous, that he’s adaptable and versatile. His high-intensity pressing and an eye for goal is a void missing in the modern midfield, again due to this emphasis on possession and control. Mount being different is an advantage, the ability to compete in the 8 role, 10 role, and as an inverted winger. Mount brings depth to not just the Chelsea squad but England’s as well. He’s also much better technically than people give him credit for, and no I’m not talking about set pieces and dead ball situations. He’s also capable of spotting a pass and cutting open a team. One of the best examples of this was last season at Old Trafford setting up a massive chance for Mason Bennett. Right now, I put the lack of through balls and big chances created down to an eagerness to score, providing a skill set so desperately lacking in the current Chelsea team, over a lack of ability to provide those passes. With age will come maturity in his decision making and I think this opinion is held by Lampard and Southgate. Hence the heavy involvement.
Finally, his clear dedication and hard work to strive to be the very best and again, live up to his response to his father, a quote I referred to at the start of this article. These are underestimated qualities until you give examples of Balotelli, Taarabt, Ben Arfa, and so many others. Enough raw talent to be world-class but not the attitude and work rate to match. To conclude it’s of little surprise to me that Mount has been included in the most recent England squad especially with constant concerns of a missing link from the midfield to attack in previous years.
The making of Mason… Capped off with an international cap? We’ll have to see, won’t we?