Profiling Chelsea's Mason Mount: Frank Lampard's protege making waves in the Premier League | SK Wonderkids
Nobody could have imagined that Chelsea's transfer ban would prove to be a blessing in disguise for a club that had lost a European title-winning manager and one of their greatest ever players in the same summer. Having been accustomed to the profligacy of the Roman Abramovich era, the two-window ban slapped on the Blues by FIFA for violating transfer regulations was believed to be the beginning of a difficult transitional period for the club.
Ironically, the ban paved the way for a youthful revolution in West London whereby a dejected club with an amateur coach is suddenly injected with fresh hope and determination for the new campaign. Frank Lampard's dependence on academy products for the team's survival, which became crucial due to the circumstances, has now reaped harvests no one had previously expected.
Chelsea are currently third in the Premier League, level on points with second-placed Leicester City and eight points away from leaders Liverpool. Their surprisingly decent campaign is rooted in the manager's faith in his youth players with the likes of Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Mason Mount continually proving their worth as first-team regulars.
Mount, who had worked with Lampard during his debut managerial stint with Derby County, is one of the few Chelsea youngsters who have made an admirable step-up to the Premier League this term, a fact that should come as no surprise after he announced himself to the Blues by becoming one of the best performers in the Championship last season.
Lampard went on to heap praise on Mount, saying,
"The all-round game and quality of Mason. He is the catalyst for us getting in front with his sharpness. He was brilliant for me at Derby. I did not expect this level but he is improving daily."
Having trained at the club since he was 6 years old, the Portsmouth-born youngster signed for the Blues in the Under-9 age group before making his Under-18 debut in the 2013-14 season. It was only until the 2016-17 campaign that the English talent alerted his presence in the development squad by netting his first goal at that level against Liverpool. He went on to captain the FA Youth Cup side to a fourth consecutive victory, scoring a hat-trick in their fourth-round win at Birmingham.
The midfielder represented England in the 2016 UEFA European Under-17 Championship and was named the Golden Player in the subsequent 2017 UEFA European Under-19 tournament, during which he provided the assist for the winning goal against Portugal in the final.
Mount's exploits earned him a loan move to Vitesse Arnhem in the 2017-18 season, where he scored 14 goals to help the club qualify for the Europa League. He finished the campaign as the Dutch outfit's Player of the Year and even trained with the England senior squad ahead of the FIFA World Cup that summer.
Much like other Chelsea academy graduates, Mount secured another loan move in the summer of 2018, this time to Derby County, which was then under Blues legend Lampard and his former youth team boss Jody Morris.
At Derbyshire, the 20-year-old showcased his versatility as an attacking midfielder who could play in any central midfield role; either across a three-man midfield or in a much deeper position. Furthermore, he demonstrated intelligent pressing and immense quality on the ball and had established himself as a strong and hard-working box-to-box player.
Former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane even went on to liken him to his current manager after he broke into the first team set up this season.
"He’s brave, he’s shown a bit of courage and he looks like he’s got that knack, like Frank Lampard, of getting in these positions and actually finishing these chances off. A lot of players get in good positions - it’s that end product. He looks like he’s got it."
The England international notched up 16 goals and assists combined during his loan spell with the Rams but saw them excruciatingly miss out on promotion to the English top-flight before returning to Stamford Bridge. He then went on to feature for the Three Lions in the Under-21 European Championships over the summer before signing a new five-year contract with Chelsea.
Mount made his senior debut for the Blues in a 0–4 away defeat against Manchester United in the Premier League in August this year. He netted his first goal for the senior team against Leicester City in what was Lampard's home debut as manager of the club.
The youngster quickly became a regular member of the Chelsea squad this season, a fact that was previously inconceivable for his father, Tony, who once said,
"I told him one of the toughest things he will ever have to accept is that John Terry is the only academy boy to make it to the Chelsea first team in 20 years".
His son has now featured in all 12 of the Blues' Premier League games this season, scoring four goals and providing one assist so far.
The Blues academy graduate went on to make his senior debut for the England national team in their 4–0 home win over Bulgaria in a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier back in September. He recently scored his debut goal in the Three Lions' a 4–0 away win against Kosovo in their final qualifier for the continental tournament.
Chelsea’s appeal against their two-window transfer ban is scheduled to be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland today and while the London powerhouse will undoubtedly go after big names when the punishment is lifted, Mount has certainly made a strong case as a first-team player in Lampard's revamped squad.Published 20 Nov 2019, 18:25 IST