It was feared in some circles that Mason Mount‘s fledgling career might stall when Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as Chelsea manager at the end of January. After all, Lampard was sacked in part due to the poor form of several key attacking signings, the lion’s share of their £220 million outlay last summer.
Tuchel’s ability to speak German was viewed as a vital asset in improving the fortunes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, the latter only now showing signs of establishing himself as an influential player after a difficult first season in England. Mount was made captain for Lampard’s last game in charge, but he was dropped for Tuchel’s first, a perfect distillation of the challenge the 22-year-old had in proving himself. His rise was influenced in part by the club’s transfer ban, but prior to his exit, Lampard had been keen to promote youth regardless after years of Chelsea managers ignoring the club’s own academy graduates.
Yet Mount will make his 100th appearance for the Blues in the coming weeks — possibly as soon as May 1 — after becoming just as vital to Tuchel as he was for Lampard.
Chelsea reached the Champions League semifinals on Tuesday with a 2-1 aggregate win over Porto, despite losing the second leg 1-0 to an impressive last-minute volley by Mehdi Taremi. Their path was ultimately secured by last week’s 2-0 win in the first leg in which Mount scored his first European goal, a smart turn and finish showcasing notable recent improvements in his potency. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lampard never had any doubts that Mount’s upward trajectory would continue.
“The minute I gave him the armband, I could see the look on his face of what that meant to him,” said Lampard, speaking at a Q&A session ahead of this month’s London Football Awards. “That’s something you get when you bring through academy players, and fans love it. But academy players who have been there since eight years of age fight their way into the team with absolute desire, it means so much to them. That’s tangible. That’s something that’s important. You won’t always see it at 20 [years old].
“They might have dips in confidence, they might have moments in games, but when you have players that care, it doesn’t matter who the manager is. The desire they have, because they work so hard and have that talent, will carry them through. So when I left Chelsea — and this is no disrespect to the manager now because he is obviously doing a fantastic job — but the manager would come in and I would put my house on the fact within two or three weeks they’d be saying ‘wow, Mason Mount, trains every day like a champion, works off the ball and sets the press, has great quality is improving all the time and is now adding goals to his game this year.'”
Mount has made 53 appearances this season for club and country and is therefore comfortably on course to surpass last season’s tally of 59. He has started England’s last eight matches, and was the only player to begin all three of England’s World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland last month, with manager Gareth Southgate making a rather pointed comment, alluding to the accusation that Mount was something of a pet project for Lampard. “I was saying in the autumn that he is a very good player, I suppose now Thomas Tuchel picks him, everybody will agree.”
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Mount may have joined Chelsea aged 6 and approached every challenge with a positive…