For a third time in recent weeks, Frank Lampard sent shockwaves through the Chelsea fanbase with his starting XI. Whether you were whipping up a mid-day meal or just rolling out of bed, every Blues supporter’s jaw dropped when they saw the little circle “C” next to Mason Mount’s name in the pregame graphic. 24 January 2021 will go down as one helluva trivia answer years down the line—so if you’re a trivia nut like me, jot that down—but for now, it’s a small step in the young career of a superstar in the making.
Mount became the youngest captain to play for Chelsea since John Terry was given the armband by Claudio Ranieri in the early 2000s. The academy product hasn’t gotten a mention for the role this season with club captain Cesar Azpilicueta, vice-captain Jorginho, veteran Thiago Silva and the lovable N’Golo Kante ahead of him. However, with all of the aforementioned either on the bench or out of the squad, it was Mount’s turn to shine. While the English midfielder being given the armband caught more than a handful of viewers off guard, it’s something Blues fans should get used to seeing.
The 22-year-old is the only player who has given a care in the last few weeks, when the rest of the team has looked flat and uninterested. Therefore, he more than earned the captaincy. We have no idea what goes on at Cobham or in the dressing room, as we’re just spectators. To claim Mount didn’t deserve it is, well, rubbish. That’s not to say the argument for giving the armband to either Kurt Zouma or Hakim Ziyech against Luton Town wasn’t there, but Mount performed the role perfectly at the end of the day. Mount flew up and down the pitch with energy and discipline. The midfielder adapted perfectly alongside Billy Gilmour in a 4-4-2. Although he wasn’t directly involved in any goals, he still received Man of the Match nominations.
On a day where Tammy Abraham netted a hat-trick—the third of which was an excellent team goal straight out of Cobham—it was fantastic to see the production from the young stars on both ends of the pitch. This began and ended with Mount though; he was the maestro that kept the symphony finely tuned. It was yet another mature performance from the player who joined the club at the age of six.
While seeing Mount sport the armband undoubtedly brought a smile to the faces of the Chelsea faithful, it’s not particularly something we should get used to seeing this season, but rather the near future. Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Silva and Kante won’t be kept out of the squad forever. One thing is certain though: this act of faith exhibits Lampard’s long-term plan. Mount has been in-line to take over the club captaincy at some point since the moment his shot rattled the back of Kasper Schmeichel’s net at Stamford Bridge way back in 2019. This is just the first step of many in a beautiful relationship between a star and his boyhood club.
Azpilicueta will more than likely remain club captain until he departs in the next few seasons. He’s in the same boat as Kante, and nobody truly knows how long the pair has left in SW6. Both players are getting up there in age and there are signs of their game regressing, despite the superstar that lies within them. Azpilicueta and Kante have been fantastic for the club, but sooner or later, their times will come. Meanwhile, Jorginho’s shelf life at Stamford Bridge seems much shorter. Lampard—should he still be in charge—could elect to name Mount vice-captain at that point in time, thus expediting the process.
To quote many Chelsea journalists these days: it’s a matter of when, not if. Mount is destined to be the Blues’ club captain and leader for the next decade or so. The FA Cup tie against Luton was just the first step in a long—and hopefully successful—career for the midfielder.