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Midfielder Mason Mount changing perceptions at Chelsea

It’s one of the few mistakes Thomas Tuchel has made in his short but transformative time as Chelsea’s manager.

One he has quickly rectified.

Two days into the job as Frank Lampard’s midseason replacement, Tuchel picked his first Chelsea lineup for a Premier League game against Wolverhampton in late January. Perhaps understandably, he chose to drop Mason Mount. Mount, a 22-year-old midfielder halfway through only his second season at Chelsea, didn’t fit the bill. New to English soccer, Tuchel decided to side mostly with experience and players he knew – sturdy defenders Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta, a fellow German in Kai Havertz, and a 34-year-old striker in Olivier Giroud.

Fast forward three months and the situation couldn’t be more different. Mount is a player Tuchel cannot do without, a lock in the team – and not a stretch to say maybe Chelsea’s most important player. “He has the full package,” Tuchel said of the playmaker after Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Fulham in the league on Saturday, when he gave some first-choice players a pause between the two legs against Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals. Not Mount, though, a player so integral to the team – with his vision, set-pieces, and ability to drive forward with the ball – he couldn’t be left out. For someone who was first spotted by Chelsea scouts at six and then signed by the club at 9, Mount has come a long way in a short time.

HMount was technically gifted, with a cultured right foot and strong work ethic, but was hardly someone who grabbed the headlines. e was on loan three seasons ago at Vitesse Arnhem, Chelsea’s Dutch feeder club.

Two seasons ago, he was on loan at Derby, a second-division English club managed by Lampard. Last season, he followed Lampard back to Chelsea and was part of the senior squad for the first time, one of the young players regularly used

while a transfer embargo hindered the club. Unsurprisingly, given his role as an attacking midfielder like Lampard, Mount was regarded as a pet project for his manager. But he had proved his worth by the end of the season, scoring and assisting in the final-day 2-0 win over Wolves that secured Champions League qualification for Chelsea, and Mount continued to be a regular under Lampard even after the club’s nearly $300 million spending spree in the offseason.

Tuchel now realizes Mount isn’t just potential. He is, in fact, the real thing.

“He has big self-confidence, in a very, very positive way,” Tuchel said. “It’s a pleasure to have him be at his side and guide him and support him. “It’s impressiv; he’ss not affected by all the praise. This is maybe the most important part. He seems to be a guy who likes the sport and feels an obligation to make the most out of it. And he wants it badly, so it’s a full mix.”

Mount is also delivering on the international stage, starting the last eight matches for England and seemingly a shoo-in for Gareth Southgate’s first-choice team for the European Championship in June. He is fronting a new generation of young players, including Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, and his best friend, Declan Rice. Southgate has long been a fan of Mount, even inviting the midfielder to train with the senior team for a week before the 2018 World Cup.

“He is an exceptional player,” Southgate said. “He finds space intelligently; he manipulates the ball very well, he creates chances and scores goals.” Tuchel has discovered this. In the first leg against Madrid, from which Chelsea came away in the ascendancy after a 1-1 draw in Spain, Mount finished with a special pass completion rate (96%) than Madrid’s superstar midfielders Toni Kroos (92.4%) and Luka Modric (86.9%).

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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