Mason Mount has quickly become a fixture in Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, so much so that we tend to forget that not only is he just 21, and not only is this just his first season in the Chelsea first-team, but even just a year ago, it would’ve been absolutely unthinkable to see a Chelsea Academy youth make such an impact at Stamford Bridge. “Our own” would be lucky to collect 50 appearances for the first-team during their entire career, let alone in just one seaon. But that’s precisely what Mount’s done, leading the team with 53 appearances (44 starts).
Alongside Tammy Abraham and Reece James (and Andreas Christensen and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who had taken the scenic route), we can say without reservation that Mount has “made it”. What happens now is wholly up to him, and not dependent on external factors and obstacles between the youth team and the seniors.
Overcoming those certainly owes a lot of Frank Lampard and Jody Morris, who have ushered in a new paradigm at Chelsea in the wake of last year’s transfer ban. But it also owes a lot to Mount’s own strength of will and stubborn determination to achieve his unlikely long-term goals.
“My dad always had questions because there weren’t many young players coming through. JT [John Terry] was the only one who really came through and had an unbelievable career.
“I always believed that I would make it to the first team through hard work and determination and I didn’t let anybody get in the way of my focus, even my dad when he had questions. I said I [was] going to stay here and work as hard as I can. I [believed] totally that I [could] make it to the first team and then go all the way.”
And Mason was equally undeterred when his best friend, Declan Rice was cut by the Academy. Rice would of course go on to make a similar journey to Mason’s at West Ham and could yet return to Chelsea if the transfer stars align, but at the time, none of that was a certainty. Mount had more than a little faith however.
“When Dec left it did affect me a lot at the time. But I knew what kind of player he was and what kind of person he was like, so I knew it wouldn’t stop him even if I didn’t agree with the way it happened.
“I knew as one of my closest friends that that wouldn’t be the end of him and he would work as hard as he could to get where he is.”
With or without Rice, Chelsea will need to improve in both defense and attack next season to build on the success of this season. That will require individual improvements as well, both by way of new signings and by way of the training ground. Mount, who’s had greatness expected of him for many years, but especially after turning heads at Vitesse — many had him as the league’s player of the season in 2017-18, ahead of a certain Hakim Ziyech — will have to do likewise.
“There are things we have to work on to get better but we are on the right path, we are driven to win trophies, to really step up our game. We have shown this season that we are capable of doing that.”
Onwards and upwards!