Mason Mount: Blues Breakup?

Published on 12 June 2023 at 13:00

The future of Chelsea academy graduate Mason Mount has been a hotly debated topic in the early days of the summer, with transfer insider Fabrizio Romano claiming that the England man is keen on a move to Manchester United.


But is that the best move for him? Well today we're going to dig into the data to decide.

The Lowdown

Mason Mount is a versatile player capable of featuring in the ten space or behind as an eight in a midfield three whilst also occasionally being deployed off the flanks as an inverted winger. It is this versatility along with his knack for finding space and manipulating the ball that has piqued the interest of various clubs.


However, more recently Mount has fallen out of favour at Stamford Bridge playing just over 1600 minutes for the Blues this season, comfortably less than the figures he achieved in the previous two seasons (both being far north of 2000 minutes). This, and the downturn in form Mount has seen when on the pitch has lead to a narrative in recent months that the Chelsea man was never really that good at all. 


Now, whilst it would be difficult to argue against the fact that Mount has had a down year, it is important to note that the turmoil behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge must have surely affected the 24 year old and that in a more stable, happy environment we could once again see him flourish. After all, you don't provide 21 goal involvements the season prior and then suddenly forget how to play football.


Manchester United


So, first of all, let's look at the club being hotly tipped as Mount's next destination.


For starters, the money is there. The Red Devils should have absolutely no problem stumping up a figure north of £60m despite the Chelsea man's contract expiring next summer. 


In fact the issue seems to arise when considering where Mount would feature in United's starting 11. Ten Hag's side already have one of the best number tens in the league with Bruno Fernandes (the leader in shot creating actions in the Premier League this season with 219, according to FBREF). There is a way around this of course; this season we have seen Bruno deployed off the right occasionally to reasonable effect. Nevertheless I don't believe it would be the smartest idea to shift one of the best creators in the Premier League out of position to accommodate a player who could feature elsewhere.


So, where could Mount play?


Well, thanks to his versatility the Cobham graduate could function deeper and be deployed in the double pivot alongside Casemiro. Mount ranks in the 96th percentile for progressive passes (“a pass that attempts to advance a team significantly more towards the opposition goal” - wyscout) received when compared against central midfielders. This shows that Mount is always looking to get into space and be an option on the ball, a trait that would suit Ten Hag's system perfectly. 


Whilst Mount's creative numbers are lower than Christian Eriksen's (the man he would replace in that double pivot) he still ranks well in those metrics for central midfielders and this slight drop is negated by the considerable increase in defensive capabilities. Often this season, the Red Devils have been exposed in central midfield due to Eriksen's lack of defensive instincts and, whilst Mount is certainly not a midfield destroyer, he does provide the ability to press endlessly and engage the opposition further up the pitch (completing 1.98 tackles per 90 last season compared to Eriksen's 0.94).


So, it seems as if Mount would be well suited to Ten Hag's system and could be a key player there for many years.




However, whilst Manchester United seem to be clearly winning the race, there is another club whom the player may suit more: Arsenal.


The Gunners are fresh off their best season in over a decade and are looking to capitalise on that with potential moves for the likes of Declan Rice and João Cancelo. But perhaps their biggest position of need is that of the departing Granit Xhaka, and that is a role which Mason Mount could seemingly fulfil better than most.


Putting aside the obvious rivalry between the two clubs this transfer seems to make sense. Mount has operated in a similar way before under Frank Lampard at both Derby and Chelsea, being deployed as one of the eights in a midfield three, and it is this that Arsenal need.


Last season Granit Xhaka was deployed on the left hand side of the midfield three in a box-to-box role, becoming a vital cog for his side this season and notching up impressive numbers for both progressive passes received and touches in the attacking penalty area. However, Mount trumps the Swiss international in both these figures, ranking in the 96th and 97th percentile respectively for central midfielders and therefore has the potential to explode in Arsenal's engine room.


It also helps that this role doesn’t necessarily require a staunch defensive performance as Xhaka only ranked in the 6th percentile for CMs in terms of tackles this season and thus the risk of Mount being exposed defensively seems lower, especially considering the extra cover of a designated defensive midfielder and a partner alongside him who's able to cover.


Overall, Mason Mount could be perfect as the box-to-box eight in Arteta’s system as he combines tireless pressing work, a knack for finding space and creating chances, a decent eye for goal and a stellar attitude. Put him alongside the brilliant Martin Ødegaard and childhood best friend and potential newcomer Declan Rice and the Gunners could create one of the best midfields in the league. It seems worth the money to me.


The Verdict


In conclusion, I believe that Mason Mount could absolutely flourish at either of these clubs and become a superstar under the tutelage of Arteta or Ten Hag. However, we have never seen Mount operate in a double pivot and thus it may put a lot of strain on Casemiro, and whilst if anyone can handle it it’s him, I believe the 24 year old is a better fit for Arsenal's system. Therefore, it is my opinion that despite the rivalry factor Mason Mount should move to Arsenal.


But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.



Ben Watts

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