During Derby County’s historic victory away at Manchester United in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night, many Chelsea and England fans would have been delighted to see the performance of 19-year-old Mason Mount. Firmly announcing himself on the big stage, the Chelsea youngster showed midfield qualities that his parent club and national side appear to be desperately lacking.
Mason Mount Can Fill the Midfield Void at Chelsea and England
These Performances are Nothing New
A lot has been made of Mount’s progress at Derby County this season. Yet, before Tuesday night, most Premier League fans may never have heard of the youngster.
Coming through the youth ranks at Chelsea, he is currently playing his second season of professional football and, as is becoming so customary of his parent club, both of those have been spent on loan.
Last year he was sent to Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem, a club which in recent years has increasingly become an unofficial Chelsea reserves team. Unlike so many of his predecessors, though, Mount earned a huge amount of plaudits during his time in the Eredivisie.
He was instrumental in guiding his side to a historic Europa League spot, scoring 14 goals in the process and winning Vitesse’s player of the season as a result.
Much like his performance on Tuesday night, Mount consistently conveyed his maturity as a player. Comfortable on the ball and showcasing a wide range of passing, the youngster demonstrated an impressive ability to control football matches even against far more experienced opposition.
These performances did not go unnoticed at home. On his return to England, Gareth Southgate invited Mount to train with the England squad as they prepared for the World Cup, a privilege no other youngster was given. Fully aware of England’s desperate lack of a creative midfielder or an individual capable of controlling matches, Southgate clearly sees how pivotal Mount could be to England’s future success.
Having represented his country from U16 level, his greatest international achievement so far came during England’s victorious U19 European Championship campaign in 2017. Assisting Lukas Nmecha with the winning goal, he was later announced player of the tournament.
Continuing to Prove His Quality
With five goals in twelve appearances already this season, Mount is thriving under the guidance of ex-Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard and former Chelsea youth coach Jody Morris.
After the match at Old Trafford, when asked about Mount and Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson, who scored a stunning free-kick to get Derby level, Lampard said confidently: “Both he and Mason Mount are going to go a long way”.
Neither players seemed at all intimidated playing on such a big stage, demonstrating the composure and maturity you wouldn’t usually associate with players of such a young age.
Chelsea the Main Aim
After it was announced that Mount would be joining Derby this season, he told the Telegraph that “Chelsea is the main goal for me, I want to play in their first-team.”
Clearly committed to the club he has been a part of since the age of six, Mount may have to wait a while for a chance to play for a side which rarely gives their youngsters a chance. Despite having won five FA Youth Cups in a row, John Terry remains the only major success story of Chelsea’s youth academy in the last twenty years.
Former Chelsea U18 coach Morris recently expressed his frustration at this, claiming that managers consistently seemed disinterested in the club’s academy.
Talking to Sky Sports he said: “We’ve had managers at Chelsea where they’d be 50 yards away, there’d be a Champions League U19’s game going on, and the manager’s sat in his office, rather than coming out to watch. It’s very disheartening.
“It’s not my place to go over there and start talking to managers, but some managers aren’t interested – they don’t care about youth. They judge the first team and want to get their own players in.”
Mount Deserves a Chance Under Sarri
In the same interview, Morris urged Maurizio Sarri to take a different approach to his predecessors. And why not? Chelsea’s team is currently desperately lacking a creative spark in the midfield and Mount could be the perfect candidate to fulfil that role.
As was demonstrated once more on Wednesday night in their victory over Liverpool, Chelsea’s attack is almost entirely reliant upon the brilliance of Eden Hazard. Being so dependent on one player is certainly a concern. If the Belgian were to suffer an injury or a loss of form it’s hard to see where Chelsea’s goals would come from.
Mount isn’t a prolific goal scorer but he has shown more offensive threat at Derby than any of Chelsea’s midfielders this season. With the selection of Jorginho and N’Golo Kanté almost a guarantee, Mount could be the ideal candidate to fill the attacking void in that midfield. Comfortable on the ball, he certainly wouldn’t struggle to play within Sarri’s possession-based system.
Given that he has never played a match within Europe’s top five leagues, nor gained a full international cap, it would be unreasonable to start claiming that Mount is the answer to England and Chelsea’s problems. Yet, considering the rarity of a player of his mould, and the lack of midfield creativity in either side, it’s certainly worth both Southgate and Sarri giving him a go.