Chelsea fans, for myriad reasons, seem unable to keep Mason Mount out of their discussions for too long. For a player that is so evidently trusted by the management, it seems as if fans are split on his qualities and his role in the side.
To begin, it’s worth taking a look at his statistics this season, to better understand what he has offered the side. Having made 29 appearances in the Premier League this season, Mount has scored 6 goals which match his expected goals prediction, and has a further 5 assists. For such a young player, these are impressive statistics, and regular spectators of Chelsea games will tell you that these numbers could be even higher. Additionally, these numbers stand up well to the rest of Europe for players his age, with Bayern Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz having the same number of goals and assists in the Bundesliga this season. However, Havertz has continued to add to his goals in other club competitions and that, perhaps, is where Mount needs to work on his game, ensuring consistency across all competitions. Equally, Mount has more goal involvements that his fellow compatriot James Maddison in the league this season, which only further suggests that Mount is operating and competing with top-level European talent.
However, Mount differs from the majority of players that typically operate in the area of the pitch that he does. Chelsea is arguably going through the most transitional period in the clubs modern history, so unlike other top-level clubs, the significance and magnitude of the changes throughout the club are having a more than influential effect. With Lampard and his management team coming in at the start of the season, without Eden Hazard and caught in the quagmire of the transfer ban, the squad has needed to adapt and overcome to compete at the highest level. This is where Mount has been exceptional. Having earlier this year referred to him as a penknife, I am willing to stick by this description. Mount has allowed Lampard to experiment with formations, players and styles by adapting his game and playing in multiple positions, without ever complaining whilst putting in committed performances. Lampard has deployed Mount across the entire midfield and attack, bar striker and holding midfield, and it’s these changes that have had an impact on his statistical performances throughout the season.
Despite having provided evidence that demonstrably highlights Mount as a player with quality output for his age in a top European league, there are, as we’re aware, flaws to his game that need to be addressed if he is to progress to the next level of his personal development, and to further ensure his regular place in the first team. He is an adept presser, often being the first line of defence when the opposition attempt to play out from the back, yet his tackling and aerial ability of obviously weak parts of his game, which he perhaps is to improve slightly if he is to continue to play such a press heavy role in the side. The greatest weakness he had this season, however, was his inconsistency in front of goal as well as lacking that creative element that would have lead to a greater number of assists, as all of his assists came from dead-ball situations. As has already been pointed out, the fact that he had to adopt a plethora of positions and different roles throughout the season alongside the team’s general patchy performances during the season. Having scored 4 goals in the opening 8 games of the season, it is completely understandable that Chelsea fans felt some frustration at what was generally perceived as Lampard’s sentimentality towards Mount due to consistently selecting him when most felt that he could do with some time on the bench to allow for further experimentation. It was this initial frustration that leads to the increased criticism that Mount was subject to, understandable to some extent but unnecessary, as he has now become a divisive figure which is a shame considering he plays for the shirt more than the majority of players we’ve seen in recent years and is an incredibly useful player that Chelsea have relied upon as the season progressed.
His first season performances have continued to spark debate despite the global health crisis. Here at SW6 as well as at other publications like The Athletic, we awarded Mason Mount with our Young Player of the Season Award for his performances this season alongside his tenacity and resilience. He is the physical embodiment of what Lampard is trying to do at the club, and being this emblem for the switch in philosophy and personnel will undoubtedly open the door for criticism. Nonetheless, it seems fair to suggest that Mount will continue to be a first-team regular for the foreseeable future, and we believe this to be a positive outcome. His work rate is world-class, and his technical abilities will only continue to develop with regular game time and training. To have a prospect in the form of Mason Mount, who doesn’t see the club as a stepping-stone but as the final destination, can only help the clubs chances of remaining competitive for the next five to ten years. Lets see how the perception of him evolves over the coming seasons. The pendulum swings both ways at present, only time will tell if he really is up to the task.