Mount’s rise to Chelsea is no accident as Tuchel sees what Lampard has done with the midfielder


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There were fears in some circles that Mason Mount’s fledgling career could come to a halt 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 attack signings, the lion’s share of their £ 220million spending last summer.

Tuchel’s ability to speak German was seen as a key 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 named 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 to prove himself. His rise was in part influenced by the club’s transfer ban, but before his exit Lampard had been keen to promote youth after years when Chelsea managers ignored club academy graduates.

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Still, Mount will make his 100th appearance for the Blues in the coming weeks – possibly as early as May 1 – after becoming just as vital for Tuchel as he is for Lampard.

Chelsea reached the Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday with a 2-1 cumulative victory over Porto, despite losing 1-0 in the second leg to an impressive last-minute volley from Mehdi Taremi. Their path was ultimately secured with last week’s 2-0 first leg victory in which Mount scored his first European goal, a smart turn and finish showcasing recent notable improvements in his power. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lampard has never doubted that Mount’s upward trajectory continues.

“The minute I gave him the armband I could see what it meant to him,” Lampard said in a question-and-answer session ahead of this month’s London Football Awards. “It’s something you get when you bring players in from the academy, and the fans love it. But academy players who have been around since the age of eight are making their way into the squad with absolute desire, it means so much to them. It is tangible. something important. You won’t always see him at 20 [years old].

“They can have confidence drops, they can have moments in games, but when you have players who care, it doesn’t matter who the manager is. The desire that they have, because they work so hard and have this talent, will carry. So when I left Chelsea – and it’s not disrespecting the manager now because he’s obviously doing a fantastic job – but the manager was coming and I would put my house in the act in a couple of weeks, they ‘looks’ wow, Mason Mount, trains every day like a champion, works on the ball and puts on the press, has a great quality 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 on course to surpass last season’s 59 total. He started England’s last eight games and was the only player to start England’s three World Cup qualifiers against San Marino. , Albania and Poland last month, with director Gareth Southgate making a rather pointed comment, alluding to the accusation that Mount was somehow a wildlife project for Lampard. “I said in the fall that he is a very good player, I guess now Thomas Tuchel chooses him, everyone will agree. “

Mount may have joined Chelsea at the age of 6 and approached every challenge with a positive outlook, but that hasn’t deterred some fans at the club from rushing to judge a player who was still palpably learning his craft.

The connection between Mount and Lampard is undoubtedly strong. Mount has a framed shirt from the 2004-05 Chelsea title-winning campaign by Lampard on display in his home; he won it in a draw. Lampard in turn took a bet on an unknown teenager by taking him to Derby County in 2018, starting 35 league games in a campaign that ended in a nerve-racking loss to Aston Villa in the Championship playoff final. at Wembley.

Mount has been the target of abuse on social media, with Chelsea’s fan base somewhat reproducing the cruelty of Roman Abramovich, whose relentless pursuit of success has led to 13 different managers over his 18 years of ownership. Mount’s father Tony insists his son doesn’t read the abuse, but the family does. Yet Tuchel’s arrival and the resulting confidence in the midfielder led to replacing that negativity with a growing recognition of the traits Lampard had identified years earlier in a player whose only previous experience of senior football. was loaned to Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem in 2017-18.

“I never understood the criticisms,” Lampard said. “When he walked through the door [at Derby]I could see something special in him right away.

“For me, it was the attitude and the mentality. The first thing I always try to look at as a player is’ how are they? Because it has a huge effect on how you can frame them and make them better. Do they want to improve when they are young? And what does that mean for the group in which you integrate them?

“Everyone was talking about Mason at Chelsea academy, so it was very clear. Then there was something about when he was playing that I had seen. I saw him a lot when he was playing in Holland and it was an awareness of things around. The desire to work for the team off the ball as well as the qualities he had on the ball. “

Natural fitness runs in the family – Mount’s grandfather was a boxer – but the Chelsea midfielder takes no chances with his conditioning. He enlists one of the chefs employed by England to prepare and deliver his food, resolutely focusing on structured recovery and keeping fit during the tight season, training privately with a personal trainer and everyday in the gym.

“When he came to Derby I was sure it would be a tough race for him in the championship because of the physicality of the league,” Lampard said. “He had a really good spell at the start, then a calmer spell and then he got over it at the end of the season and was fantastic in the break-in. For me that was a measure of the player he is because very young players – because I was a midfielder, I’m probably looking even closer – aren’t going to score you 15, 20 goals a season when they are 21 years old. It does not work like that. They have to find their way, mature, find the right times to get to the box and I’ve started to see it even more in him this season.

“I’m not here anymore, but to see him develop again is great. He’s going to continue to develop, he’s going to be a fantastic player. I’ve probably said enough about him because people already called him my son. “

With typical thought, Lampard checks himself out for fear of switching from vocal support to the kind of partisan cheerleading he was once accused of. But any debate over Mount’s ability to perform at the highest level is surely already over, and only an injury will keep him from breaking the 100-appearance mark for Chelsea this season, before playing what could be a pivotal role for the team. ‘England at Euro 2020.

Mount significantly improves his end product, and Lampard believes his game is “evolving all the time.” This initially came by enjoying a more central role in Lampard’s 4-3-3 system, before fitting in as one of Tuchel’s # 10 twins in a 3-4-2- form. 1. He set himself a goal of 10 Premier League goals last season, missing three. He already has eight this quarter – and three more for England – as his four assists in the league have all come from set pieces. At the last Euros, forward Harry Kane was on turns with Gary Neville, an England coach under Roy Hodgson at that tournament, later claiming that a lack of expert set-takers had forced them to use their No.9 as an atypical alternative. That won’t be the case this summer, as Mount offers so much more than dead bullet expertise.

Explaining why he made Mount captain against Luton in January, Lampard, pushed in a final response about Mount, added: “It wasn’t a move. I didn’t know I was leaving at the time, but with Mason, I wanted to show him that his position in the group had increased. And then he needs to understand this and he needs to stand up. Tuchel admitted that Mount was doing just that.

(Editor’s note: James Olley will be on the voting panel for the 2021 London Football Awards.)

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