The first time Gareth Southgate used Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount in the pivot of a 3-4-3, the decision was met with confusion. Mount, as he often does, more or less quieted all doubts about his ability in the role at the national team level. Just like he has quiet doubts about playing as an inside forward, a 10, a flying eight, and as a false nine. Mount, for club and country, long ago proved he was legit to those that hadn’t dug so far into their narrative that they can’t get out.
Mason Mount playing in the pivot for Chelsea and England more regularly seems to be the natural progression of his career at the moment. It suits him and his coaches that are always looking for a way to just get him on the pitch. That also comes up for club and country.
The main narrative against Mount in the last two years have been about him starting over other players. Christian Pulisic (somehow), Ross Barkley, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Jack Grealish, James Maddison, basically any player someone can name as vaguely playing near Mount there has been a narrative that he has started over them. Frank Lampard, Gareth Southgate, and now Thomas Tuchel have all seen that Mount has to be one of the first names on the team sheet. The main issue is how does a team fit Mount in while also putting in those other players?
That is where the pivot comes in. Should England play a 3-4-3 this summer, like Chelsea is currently, one way to alleviate the congestion up top while still playing Mount is to put Mount in the pivot. While it may hinder his pressing, his ability to progress the ball will be put dead center in the teams. And, at least in Tuchel’s 3-4-3, at least one of the midfielders is still very much allowed to press.
For Chelsea, Mount would fulfill a role probably most similar to Mateo Kovacic in the pivot. Defensively, Mount isn’t where N’Golo Kante is but he could also add the same pressing energy. This would allow Chelsea to play someone else in the front three while still having Mount on the pitch. For England, Mount isn’t starting over any midfielder that Southgate desperately needs but he would leave room for more Grealish, Maddison, or others.
It simply seems natural as Mount’s game matures that he will end up in the pivot, especially given the players he is keeping out of his teams directly or indirectly. And, there is also a best of both world’s scenario that Lampard utilized: a midfield three with Mount as an eight.
It would sacrifice a defender (something Southgate seems more inclined to do than Tuchel) but it would keep Mount at the center of everything like he would be in a pivot, but it would also give him the freedom to attack. It would again be a role similar to the one Kovacic performs for Chelsea.
Regardless, Mount is sure to continue starting for club and country the majority of the time for the energy and skill he adds to teams. Putting him in a pivot makes sense over the long term if club or country go to a back three and it is only a matter of time.