Less than two years into his senior Chelsea career and surrounded by attacking players collectively bought for hundreds of millions, Mason Mount has emerged as the club’s most important player.
Critics poked fun at Mount under former manager Frank Lampard, suggesting he was some sort of ‘teacher’s pet’ who was disproportionately favoured. But aside from being dropped for Thomas Tuchel’s first game in charge, the 22-year-old has started every Premier League fixture since.
Mount did his time on loan at Vitesse Arnhem and then Derby County to get into this position, but now has more Premier League minutes under his belt this season than any other Chelsea player. In fact, he has played 200 minutes more – the equivalent of two whole extra games, and then some – than the next most used outfield player, which is German forward Timo Werner.
If his usage wasn’t based on merit, it would have changed permanently when Tuchel took over. The fact it didn’t, with Werner actually more of a casualty so far, only underlines his quality.
WhoScored statistics rate Mount as Chelsea’s best player in the Premier League so far in 2020/21 at 7.35. The same website has rated him best in four separate games, double that of anyone else, while he also leads the club in average key passes per game at 2.5.
Mount is still very much a developing player and his best is yet to come. But it is important for Chelsea to have someone now they can build around in what is a new project – he is absolutely that person. That he is home-grown, a Chelsea player since the age of six, is also a plus for fans.
Throughout the 2010s, the Stamford Bridge club had an academy that was the envy of the world, collecting youth trophies at an alarming rate. But for two decades, John Terry in the late 1990s was the last home-grown player to make the permanent step up to the first-team until Mount.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek threatened to be that player, but loans and injuries means there has still been a question mark over his long-term future. Tammy Abraham broke through at the same time as Mount last season, although there are also now doubts over his future, while Reece James eventually followed within a few months and looks another long-term star in the making.
The next logical step for Mount would be to inherit the number eight shirt that Frank Lampard previously made famous during his Stamford Bridge playing career. He is star of the future, but he is already the most important player in the squad as it is and has to be central to any ongoing project.