The chants in the crowd, the choreography being displayed in the supporter’s section and the singing from the fans in the stands are some key moments players take in when they are on the pitch. For those who have made it to an elite football league such as the Premier League, it is a special moment. One player, in particular, Mason Mount, who began his career with Chelsea, finally had an opportunity presented to him.
The amount of dedication, time and effort that is needed to make the top flight is insurmountable and has kids beginning as early as the age of four-years-old. Christian Pulisic developed his first touch at the age of five while Kai Havertz played with Alemannia Mariadorf at five-years-old. However, before these players reached the top flight, they spent years through various clubs and developed the necessary skills to one day reach this goal.
Last summer, FIFA announced that Chelsea FC was banned for the next two transfer windows as they breached rules in relation to signing young players. A transfer ban imposed on the club meant that they faced uncertainty ahead of the 2019/20 season.
However, the ban was lifted prior to the January transfer window. The Court of Arbitration for Sport approved Chelsea’s appeal, which reduced the transfer ban to one window. While the club is now free to make investments, this past summer was difficult, yet it created a new direction and philosophy for the club.
First-year manager Frank Lampard, who joined Chelsea in place of Maurizio Sarri, had a tough task ahead. The ban meant that the club now had to rely on their youth players. This was something that Chelsea was not accustomed to as they had recruited some of the best talents in recent years such as Gianfranco Zola, Eden Hazard, Cesc Fàbregas and Lampard himself.
With the transfer ban imposed on Chelsea, it couldn’t have been a better time for the youth system. Lampard spent over a decade with Chelsea as a player and understands the difficulty of being promoted from the Youth Academy to the first team, as most players are loaned out. Players such as Mount, Tammy Abraham, Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori now have their chance with the first team and, more importantly, can prove that they belong with the club.
At the age of six, Mount joined Chelsea. He spent 12 years learning and developing in Chelsea’s Youth Academy from 2005 to 2017. Along this path, he represented England at the under-16, under-17, under-18 and under-19 football levels. In 2016/17, Mount played for both the under-18 and under-21 teams with Chelsea in which he scored ten goals in 30 appearances. After 2017, he went on loan to Vitesse and Derby County. His most successful stint was with Derby last season, where he scored 11 goals. The team was coached by Lampard, who has now become the new manager of Chelsea.
Mount has continued that success into the first team this season. His opportunity finally arrived as Lampard had the midfielder in the starting eleven for their season opener against Manchester United. Since then, he has appeared in a total of 39 matches which includes 29 in the EPL, seven in Champions League and three in the FA Cup. The midfielder currently has six goals and four assists in all competitions this season. Additionally, he has earned a call up to the first team for the national squad, England.
The midfielder’s contribution to the club shouldn’t only be weighed by how many goals he has scored but also by the value which he delivers on the field. The number of games in which Mount has appeared means that he has earned the trust of Lampard.
Mount had a strong start to the season where he scored in back to back games against Leicester City and Norwich City. Not every game will feature the midfielder scoring, but he produces nonetheless, especially with assists. While he is still young and his development will take time, he has shown a good work ethic and the tenacity to work hard inside the 18-yard box.
He has looked eager for the ball and has been fearless by taking on players one-on-one. He has the ability to carry the ball forward and strike the ball on target and score. The way he commits to the play by running back to help the defence and continues to learn is very important because at a young age a player could get discouraged, show inconsistency and be unable to adapt to that level of football.
Lampard was happy with Mount’s performance after their 2-1 win over Aston Villa where he scored the winning goal, earlier in December. The 21-year-old has shown signs of growth and maturity in his game, including the latter half of the season.
“I don’t think Mason should be measured solely on goals,” Lampard said after their 2-1 win against Aston Villa.
“We had an international break and he did not start a couple of game but goals are part of his game and his all-round game in the second half is what we expect of him.
“Because it wasn’t just the goal, it was the threat he had from the edge of the box, his link-up and his winning the ball back in high areas which is his game.
“I thought he had a really good second half.”
These are encouraging words from the Chelsea manager describing his young asset. Knowing that he has the full support of his coach, he will continue to work hard and grow as a player to become what Chelsea needs at this moment.
While Mount has shown great upside in his game, there are flaws which he needs to fix and he still has plenty of time. The midfielder has directed his focus on goal-scoring, which has hurt him in certain areas of his play. At times, he forced the wrong pass in coverage and has lead to a turnover, or shot from distance which leads to loss of possession.
“I have found recently that I have been trying too hard to score and kind of snatching at shots and trying to take shot when off-balance and stuff,” Mount said after the 2-1 win against Aston Villa.”
“When you are so focused on scoring and thinking I need to score then you do that.
“It does happen that you start snatching at it. You don’t take your time and focus on your technique enough. I had looked at my game and where I have been going wrong recently and to aim to stay calm and not to try to look for as much as I have been.”
At only 21 years of age, Mount has finally been presented the opportunity to play at the highest stage in football. Right now he is showing that he does belong in this Chelsea side. Mount truly only knows Chelsea and will be a player to enjoy for many years to come.