Whenever Chelsea Football Club is mentioned, certain names come to mind instantly. For some, it is John Terry and it is Frank Lampard. For the younger fans, it is Eden Hazard. All of those players had different skillsets and left their marks on Stamford Bridge in their own unique ways. They all have their own stories, but the one thing that is common in their legacies is the fact that they cared about Chelsea more than anything else. They bled blue through and through, and left everything on the pitch in a bid to secure results for the badge.
When we think of the current squad in a similar context, Mason Mount is the one name that pops up in every discussion. One cannot deny that he cares about the club more than anything else. The greatest of players led their team when things were going south, and that is exactly what Mount has done. In the last few games of the Lampard era, Mount stood tall when the whole squad looked dejected and uninterested. He kept rallying his teammates until the final whistle, even though there was barely any chance of a comeback. He has been one of Chelsea’s most dedicated players. Mount’s impact has often been overlooked as it hasn’t always been flashy, but his work ethic has truly set a new bar for Chelsea players. Every player must look up to the young midfielder due to the passion he carries on the pitch no matter who the manager is.
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Mount was the first name on the teamsheet when Chelsea was managed by Lampard. It was heartbreaking to see the Blues part ways with the club legend, and you can imagine how tough it would have been for Mount to see his gaffer go. Lampard nurtured Mount at Derby County, where he played a total of 3838 minutes, scored eleven goals and assisted six. Throughout the two and a half seasons under Lampard, Mount evolved into a mature footballer with exceptional vision and awareness. Under Lampard, he started understanding the game well, pressing in the right areas, passing the ball into dangerous spaces and taking on defensive duties when required. He truly transformed into a complete midfielder. Whatever Mount does from now on will certainly have Lampard’s name associated with it, one way or another. It is fitting that Mount scored the first and last Premier League goal of the Lampard era and captained the team in his last game. While Lampard’s time at Chelsea might not be remembered for trophies, it will certainly be remembered for the emergence of Mount.
Lampard once talked about the impact of Mount, and how he brings so much more to the game than just step-overs and flicks. This is something that has been emphasized by Gareth Southgate, as well. In a world where fans continue to drool over goals and assists, Mount does the work that often goes unnoticed. If you watch his game closely, you will observe that he tends to pop up everywhere on the pitch, in both the defensive and offensive phases. He is the one player that has the heart to come back into his box to defend and then run up field with the ball to create a chance. This fact is illustrated by the fact that Mount’s heat-map has patches in each and every area of the pitch, which shows his gargantuan presence.
Maturity and responsibility
Mount’s game has certainly evolved in the past couple of seasons under the guidance of Lampard. His performances have been a lot more intelligent this season, even if they haven’t been as shiny to the naked eye. He is averaging 10.6 more touches per 90 minutes in Chelsea’s defensive half than last season, and this shows that Mount is taking more responsibility in the defensive phase of the game than ever before. On first look, you might think that this means that Mount’s impact in the final third has reduced. However, this season, there has been a spike in his shot-creating actions (passes, dribbles, fouls drawn that lead to a shot attempt) from 3.67 in 2019/20 to 4.56 in 2020/21. This shows that Mount’s overall impact has increased this season as he is seen in the offensive areas, as well as back defending.
Key role in Tuchel’s system
The overall impact of Mount’s game will be crucial for Tuchel and Chelsea’s football in the future. Tuchel’s system emphasizes on ball recoveries in the final third, and this is another area where players like Mount are extremely useful. As soon as the Blues lose possession in the final third, the inverted forwards and the wingbacks counter-press vigorously and close the opposition down to regain the ball. Even under Lampard, Mount was the leader in the press as he pressed continuously for long periods of the game, even when the others took a backseat. This desire and attitude make the young Englishman special, as he has a strong mentality which will help him succeed in any squad, irrespective of manager, irrespective of position.
Mount is often seen urging his teammates when they are down, and always takes the initiative in the team. He is still 22 and developing with every game. Any football fan with a basic understanding of the game will be able to recognize what Mount brings to the pitch, even if a certain section of deluded fans will try to convince you otherwise. As Lampard correctly once stated, Mount doesn’t really have the flashy skills or the crazy step-overs (even though he did do an outrageous flick against Sheffield United), rather he is an engine that drives the machinery of Chelsea. He never rests. If there’s one player that deserves to captain Chelsea at some point in time, its Mount.
I don’t know if Mount will end up becoming a legend at Chelsea or not, but what I do know is that he has been supporting this club since he began walking, and has been playing for the badge since the age of six. Stamford Bridge has been home to several eras, with Eden Hazard’s era being the latest one. While this may sound like an exaggeration, I truly believe that Mount’s era will create history at Chelsea. He loves this club more than anything else in the world, and if there’s anything I want to see in my captain, it is that trait.