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Opinion: The Reason Why Mason Mount Is Irreplaceable At Chelsea

SOURCE: MY OPINION

To say Mason Mount divides opinion is an understatement; he even divides Chelsea fans who support the club for which he plays. 

Some regard him as an exceptional talent that the Blues are fortunate to have, while others believe he is just another example of an overrated English player with little substance to his game. 

There's certainly an argument for both, and if you look at his goal-scoring record, and only his goal-scoring record, you'd certainly lean towards the side that believes he shouldn't start for Chelsea or England. 

Mount has not scored in his last 20 club and international appearances, dating back to his goal in the second leg of Chelsea's Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid. In that time, he's also only racked up three assists, which is certainly eye-catching for all the wrong reasons for a player in his position. 

It's not a pretty record, especially given Mount's roles as a wide No.10 in a front three under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea and as the sole No.10 in a 4-2-3-1 under Gareth Southgate on England duty.

Mount's game, however, is much more than just goals and assists. Now, he obviously wants to score more goals, but that's not his style of play, and it never has been. 

What value does he bring to Chelsea? 

Mount has been compared to Chelsea's record goal-scorer ever since he joined Derby County on loan and was subsequently promoted to the Chelsea first-team by Frank Lampard. But it's not a fair comparison because Mount is a very different player than Lampard. 

Lampard, a Chelsea legend, began from a deep position and became famous for his late runs into the penalty box, frequently appearing in the right place at the right time to tuck the ball home. Mount doesn't do that, and he hasn't done it in a long time. Even in Chelsea's youth teams, he'd rarely get on the scoresheet, but that didn't matter because his contribution to the team far outweighed his ability to score every week.

Despite playing academy football, Mount only scored seven goals and assisted seven times in 40 games for Chelsea's U18 and U23 teams. Nonetheless, he was regarded as one of the Blues' most promising young players. Mount was crucial to dictating the tempo of Chelsea's attacks as a No.8, and he frequently found himself playing the pass before the assist rather than receiving credit himself. 

That trend has continued into the first-team, which is unsurprising. Mount is almost always involved in Chelsea's attacks, and when he doesn't, which is rare, the team suffers. 

Last season, Mount had five Premier League assists, which may not seem like much, but xA predicted he should've had nearly double that, but he was let down by his Chelsea teammates' finishing. Mount completed 2.7 key passes per 90 minutes in the Premier League last season, which tied him for third in the league with Bruno Fernandes and teammate Callum Hudson-Odoi for players with over 1,000 minutes. 

That demonstrates Mount's creative side, which his assist total does not fully reflect. 

Furthermore, in comparison to other attacking midfielders and wingers in Europe's top five leagues over the last 365 days, Mount ranks in the 92nd percentile for progressive passes, with 5.4 per 90. While not on par with Kevin de Bruyne or Bruno Fernandes, it is a better tally than Thomas Muller and Pedri. 

Now, six goals in 36 league appearances in 2020/21 isn't much to brag about, nor is his current goal drought, but Bukayo Saka netted five times in the league and received far less criticism for his final third instincts, despite playing wide off the right for the majority of the season. 

Furthermore, while his goal-scoring exploits haven't contributed much recently, as there haven't been any, Mount's ability to find space remains exceptional. In Tuchel's system, the Englishman constantly finds himself unmarked in the half-space between centre-back and full-back, and his incredible first touch and ability to turn quickly ensures he gets down that channel so often.

His goal against Porto in the Champions League last season is a prime example of this. He gradually drifts into an area where no one dares to mark him for fear of leaving space in behind, and once Jorginho locates him, he produces an exquisite turn to leave the defender behind before firing into the far corner. It was a sublime display of skill, something Chelsea fans have grown accustomed to seeing. 

Mount also plays with speed, which is difficult to define but also difficult to find. While some players, such as Bruno Fernandes, enjoy time and space on the ball, Mount plays extremely well when he doesn't think too much. He rarely keeps the ball for too long, and his passes are always fired in to keep the attack moving. This makes him difficult to mark, and it necessitates a strong defensive block to quickly shuffle from side to side, and any lapse in concentration can be punished. 

He is arguably one of the best players in the world at doing so, and it is something Tuchel and Southgate both recognize. 

Mount, in addition to his offensive abilities, is a tenacious defender. He is well-versed in the defensive side of the game, having played as a No.8 for the majority of his career, and even as a No.6 at times. His pressing is elite, with over 20 pressures per 90, and he is making 2.4 tackles and interceptions per 90 this season. 

Mount is an asset in all phases of play, which is difficult to find in an attacking midfielder, and he helps Tuchel's Chelsea balance out. As evidenced by the defeat to Manchester City, the Blues do not look the same without him, and while he may not score often, he adds far more to this Chelsea side, and he truly is irreplaceable.

SOURCE: MY OPINION

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