Why Chelsea and England trust ‘influential’ Mount despite fan doubts

The midfielder’s display in Monday’s 6-2 win over Iran was a prime example of what he does best, finding spaces against defensive opponents. Gareth Southgate selected Mount for his crucial ability to receive the ball between the lines and link play.

His runs — as well as Jude Bellingham’s — into the box were also key. The first chance of the game fell to Mount and, admittedly, he should have hit the target. Five minutes later, Bellingham would open the scoring after a similar surge into the box.

It was the tactical detail that opened up the game for England, who went on to be clinical and blow Iran away. Bellingham was regarded by many as the man of the match, but Mount was influential, too. Southgate turns to the 23-year-old when the stakes are high, trusting him in a variety of positions and playing him as a No6, No8 or No10.

Since his debut against Montenegro in 2019, Mount has played 57.6 per cent of 3,210 competitive England minutes. He started in all but one of the Euro 2020 knockout matches.

Playing on the left of a midfield three in a 4-3-3 when England were in possession, Mount linked well with his best friend Declan Rice, club-mate Raheem Sterling and Luke Shaw. Out of possession, England were set up in a 4-2-3-1, with Mount pushing up to press higher.

He brought energy and knitted things together. However, Southgate faces clamour to pick other players, such as Phil Foden or Jack Grealish, ahead of Mount. They may be easier on the eye, but Mount’s ability as a link player extends off the field.

It is well publicised that Mount and Rice are best friends. Even their families are close, as they link up on a cruise ship just off the coast of Doha. Mount is laying foundations for other friendships with players and staff alike. Shaw has become close to Mount, while Sterling holds great respect for his Chelsea team-mate.

Sterling’s relationship with Mount began in 2018, when Southgate called up Mount to train with the senior squad while he was on loan in the Netherlands at Vitesse.

Mount’s display against Iran was a prime example of what he does best, finding spaces against defensive opponents

“It was the best training performance I’ve seen to this day,” Sterling said recently. “He joined up with the seniors. He just came and I am not even exaggerating, left foot, right foot, chopping and changing direction. He was incredible.”

At Chelsea, Mount also struggles to win over a section of supporters. But he continues to have the support of Chelsea manager Graham Potter, after Thomas Tuchel and Frank Lampard championed him. Several Chelsea players pulled out of their last Premier League match before the World Cup against Newcastle, but Mount made himself available.

Tomorrow night, Mount will be up against club-mate Christian Pulisic, who he first met in June 2010 when the United States captain arrived on trial at Chelsea as a kid. Pulisic has since come to be regarded as a superstar in America, but Mount, who is younger than his counterpart, does not get the same adulation around his national team.

Trusted: Mason Mount will be expected to start again for England against the USA

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The No19 that Mount wears for Chelsea and England sums up his career to date. In reality, he would prefer the more prestigious No8 or No10, but he does not kick up a fuss. And wearing the shirt worn by Paul Gascoigne at Italia 90 is not lost on him.

“I wouldn’t say it is actually my preferred number,” Mount said after Prince William presented him with his England shirt before the tournament. “It is my second time in an amazing tournament and I don’t mind wearing No19. We opened up our shirts and it said who wore it in the past. Mine had Gazza, it was just unbelievable to see.”

Mount’s ability to put others first endears him to managers. Not all of what he does is easy to see, which might be why some will never understand what he brings.

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