It’s fair to say that barely anybody at Chelsea is playing particularly well right now, but few players have underwhelmed quite like Mason Mount.
The Blues academy graduate reached double figures for both goals and assists in the Premier League last season but has been well off the pace this time around. He has scored three times and created two more in 22 games – form which has seen him lose his spot in Chelsea’s starting lineup.
But what exactly has gone wrong, and how can Chelsea fix the situation?
In an exclusive interview with 90min, Joe Cole talks to Scott Saunders & Harry Symeou regarding all things Chelsea. They talk about Graham Potter’s future, Mason Mount, the Blues’ transfer policy and more.
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In the 2021/22 season, only seven players averaged more shot-creating actions per 90 minutes in the Premier League than Mount. He regularly played dangerous passes or tried to beat his defender and was an absolute menace in England’s top flight.
This season, however, we have seen very little of that. Mount’s statistics have plummeted and so too has patience from a fan base which has always been divided on what the 24-year-old actually offers on the pitch.
Attackers have all struggled under manager Graham Potter but few have stood out like Mount, whose failure to drive Chelsea forwards has been painfully noticeable.
Indeed, his struggles contributed to the decision to recruit Joao Felix in January. The Atletico Madrid man has played almost exclusively in Mount’s preferred position and has been one of the stand-out players of 2023, pushing Mount down the pecking order.
With all this going on in public, there have also been issues for Mount behind the scenes. He has entered the final 18 months of his contract and has rejected offers of a renewal which he did not believe reflected his status as a regular starter for club and country.
While it’s impossible to say whether the contract negotiations have impacted Mount’s performance, there’s no denying it’s hardly an ideal situation for either player or club.
While it’s obviously easier said than done, Mount must rediscover that cutting edge in the final third.
What made Mount so dangerous in the past was his willingness to receive the ball on the turn and run straight at defenders, never really knowing what his next move was but always prepared to cause some sort of chaos.
Mount has never been a pure goalscorer or an elite creator, but his struggles to get into the right area and attack with the same sort of oomph we saw last season have really highlighted his limitations in front of goal.
To get back to his best, Mount must bring back the energy of Tuchel or Frank Lampard’s reign, but that’s not something he will be able to do without a little help from his manager.
Potter appears to have selected Mount to become his new Alexis Mac Allister – an attack-minded player who could actually have a significant impact in a bit of a deeper role. On paper, it looked like a smart fit but it’s one which hasn’t worked.
Mount has been starting as an attacking midfielder but has clearly been tasked with coming deeper to overload the midfield, but it hasn’t worked to his strengths as Mount wants to be the first line of attack, rather than part of the build-up.
Under Tuchel, Mount was a pure attacking midfielder. He was still asked to help out defensively, but when in possession, the Englishman was challenged to roam about, find space and do what he does best. That liberty has not been afforded to him this season.
To try and rectify this, Potter played Mount in an attacking role on the left of Chelsea’s attack in the recent 1-0 defeat to Southampton, but that also ended miserably. Mount isn’t the fastest player and doesn’t benefit from the limited space that comes with standing on the touchline. He wants the freedom of the pitch in the number 10 role that Felix has, deservedly, made his own right now.
Finding a way to combine Mount and Felix is crucial for Potter. Perhaps the latter, more mobile and agile than Mount, could be used in a wider role, or maybe the two combine as dual number 10s in the 3-4-2-1 setup that brought Tuchel real success.
There’s reason to believe that the arrival of Enzo Fernandez, who provides much more midfield control than Chelsea had to offer before he came, could boost Mount. If his energy is no longer needed in a deeper role, Mount may get the freedom to return further up the pitch.
If Mount can get more involved in the final third, Chelsea fans can be confident their academy graduate will come good once again.