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Mason Mount

Attacking midfielder, Chelsea

Even if Mason Mount makes his England debut during either of their European Championship qualifiers against Bulgaria or Kosovo, he will remain years behind the target his manager at Chelsea, Frank Lampard, has set him. Lampard won 106 caps during a fine international career, and has told Mount to strive for even more.

The 20-year-old has also already arguably showed greater promise than Lampard at the same age. His breakthrough perhaps came in 2017/18 on loan at Vitesse Arnhem, where he arrived speaking no Dutch but finished the season as player of the year. That summer, owing to his performances and reputation, he was then invited – alongside Phil Foden and Ryan Sessegnon – to train with the senior England team in the build-up to the World Cup in Russia. Having impressed on loan under Lampard at Derby last season, he was called up for England fixtures against Croatia and Spain.

“Mason has been one of the outstanding players in the Premier League this season,” Gareth Southgate recently said, suggesting that that first appearance is imminent. “We bought him into the squad last October, as much for the experience as anything. This time he is in on merit.”

Tactical analysis
Mount has a similar attacking profile to James Maddison and has so far this season flourished as an advanced central midfielder. Unlike his new international teammate, who has been given a wider role at Leicester, Mount has largely been used to great effect in central areas for Chelsea.

His ability to receive passes from any angle and still face forward within his first few touches is an outstandingly valuable trait. Instead of setting possession back – and potentially sacrificing momentum – Mount’s shift of body means that he can maintain an attacking attitude, which is ideal for quickly linking with advanced runners or attacking teammates. Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho will all benefit from his flexibility, and the forward passes he looks to play.

The accuracy of those passes can still improve, however, particularly when comparing him to Maddison – a potential long-term rival for selection in Southgate’s starting XI. Mount instead offers more dribbles and drives forward, in addition to a more dynamic approach to pressing when out of possession. His energy and desire to hunt for the ball – as below, when opening the scoring against Leicester last month – is similar to that of Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Mount is also perhaps the most composed of England’s current midfielders when in or near the penalty area. Quick changes of direction from his relatively low centre of gravity help him to evade pressing defenders; he can also finish impressively, often shooting powerfully without sacrificing accuracy.

Role with England
Should Southgate continue to prefer three central midfielders – most regularly two number eights in front of a deeper-lying pivot – Mount will be used as one of those eights, potentially rotating with the other no matter who is selected behind them.

In Bulgaria and Kosovo, England will almost certainly be lining up againt opponents happy to give them possession while defending deep and depriving them of space in the final third. Mount’s penetrative dribbles (above), quick feet and strong work ethic would make him a suitable solution to the problems his coach will expect his team to encounter both on Saturday and again on Tuesday.

In the medium term, the Chelsea youngster will compete with the likes of Ross Barkley, Harry Winks, Dele Alli, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lingard, among others, to make Southgate’s final squad for Euro 2020. In the short term, however, he has a real chance to lay down a first international marker as he embarks on the long road to emulating his club manager.

Mason Mount

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