Is Mason Mount The Premier League’s Most Underrated Superstar?
Chelsea’s 2019 transfer ban ushered in some profound structural changes to a club famous for its reluctance to blood youth.
With Frank Lampard in charge at the time, he had little choice but to give minutes to likes of Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Billy Gilmour, Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount in lieu of not having the access to the kind of prized acquisitions the Chelsea brand is synonymous with.
At the time, critics were suspicious about Lampard’s perceived favouritism towards Mount, believing his game-time wasn’t justified. With Lampard shown the door just 18 months into his managerial tenure, many wondered what this would mean for Mount’s future.
In his first game in charge, new manager Thomas Tuchel dropped him, however it wouldn’t take long for the brilliant German tactician to realise his importance to the side and soon reinstated him as a key member of the first team.
Since taking over, Tuchel has been able to unleash so much of Mount’s enormous potential to the point it's now worth appreciating that this former Cobham youth system graduate might just be the Premier League’s most underrated superstar.
One facet of Mount’s game that can’t be observed just by looking at stats is his tactical nous and his versatility.
Under Lampard, he was mostly deployed as an advanced 8 on the left-hand side of a midfield three. This allowed him to create overloads on that side, due to his technical ability as he is so well versed at either cutting in and getting a shot or cross in, or hitting the by-line and taking on the full-back with pace and skill.
This was very evident for England at the Euros as well. When playing on the left-hand side, Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling’s games were massively benefited by Mount’s selflessness and intelligence to be fluid in both defence and attack. When playing in this 3-midfield system, he covers so much ground and is constantly pressing the defence while tracking back to limit the space the opposition’s attackers have.
Playing in a 3-4-3, Mount’s style of play is a lot different. Instead of playing on the left of a traditional front three, pushing on the last man and maintaining width whilst also cutting into the half-space. He instead drops deep to receive possession in between the lines, before using the runs of the ongoing wingbacks or the pressing number 9.
Whilst playing in a position that indicates this, his game doesn’t revolve around goals and assists. It revolves around creating space and traps for the defence to fall into, allowing the likes of Kai Havertz and now Romelu Lukaku a lot more space than players of their quality ordinarily have.
Mount retains possession very well, thus making him a fantastic outlet when Chelsea can’t beat the press. He has been deployed more on the right-hand side, instead of his traditional left. This allows him to link up with Reece James and generate crosses on his natural foot much easier.
Hidden Amongst ‘Excellence’
Where the stats are concerned, Mason Mount should be regarded as one of the most creative and dynamic payers in the Premier League.
When you consider the media attention the likes of Jack Grealish, Bruno Fernandes and Kevin De Bruyne command, it’s amazing how under the radar Mount has gone, especially last season.
When Lampard’s job was under serious threat in late 2020 and in early 2021, Mount was the only player who performed week in, week out.
Last season was the definition of a breakout campaign, and his stats very much support this notion. Mount ranked 2nd in the league last season for Key Passes with 90, ranked 1st for Carries into the final third with 100and was 5th for Progressive Carries with 265.
All of this, whilst only being dispossessed with the ball 54 times while receiving 234 progressive passes which compared favourably to Mo Salah and Bruno Fernandes who had 415 & 284 respectively.
His 163 shot-creating actions positioned him 2nd in the league and he has the most amount of shot-creating actions from set-pieces with 47.
Where does he rank amongst Europe’s elite? Well, comparing him to other players in his position in Europe top 5 leagues, he sits in the top 7% for Key Passes, the top 5% for Passes into the Final Third and the top 10% for Progressive Passes. We also find Mount in the top 8% for Shot-Creating Actions, top 11% for Carries into the Final Third, and the top 4% for Tackels+Interceptions which is illustrative of his elite tracking back abilities which are also reflected in him being ranked within Europe's top 7% for successful pressures.
These numbers paint the picture of an absolutely elite midfielder and one who played a pivotal role on a team who ultimately conquered Europe.
Mason Mount is an exceptionally good, highly versatile midfielder who is benefitting greatly from Thomas Tuchel’s preferred system of play.
In many ways Mount’s relatively small amount of goals or assists and the kind of media frenzy surrounding such stats has allowed so many other parts of his game to flourish, the likes of which are having a profound effect on both Chelsea and the English national team.
To close, let’s channel our inner Sam Allardyce and speculate upon whether Mason Mount was named ‘Mason Mountidchi’ and whether that would change the media approach towards him. No, Mount doesn’t produce the stepovers or the flashy tricks which clog up highlight packages, though he’s a brutally efficient midfielder whose abilities are shadowed by his unassuming name and passive nature.
Call him whatever you like, but don't forget to call him a superstar.
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