Manchester United’s capture of Mason Mount is littered with positives, for the inordinately gifted Englishman will breathe plenty of creativity, tactical flexibility and attacking drive into Erik ten Hag’s team.
Arriving on a four-year deal after United agreed an initial £55 million transfer fee with Chelsea, Mount is the latest man to leave Stamford Bridge following the departures of Kai Havertz, Kalidou Koulibaly, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Cesar Azpilicueta and Edouard Mendy.
Having won the player of the year twice and been an integral component for the last four years especially at Chelsea under a range of managers, the man who joined them at the age of six is a huge loss.
But Chelsea’s loss is the Red Devils’ gain, with the 24-year-old, who won the Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup at his boyhood club, wanting to leave for pastures new.
Well liked by the fans and not even at the peak of his powers yet, the sale of the 24-year-old has certainly set tongues wagging among the Chelsea fanbase, many of whom are outraged a new contract wasn’t settled to keep him, but also that he’s been allowed to join fellow heavy hitters in Man Utd.
So with ten Hag having monitored and been a keen admirer of his multifaceted skill set for years, this, in combination with Mount angling for a move away, saw United duly pounce to secure his services. “I know some of you won’t be happy with my decision, but it’s what’s right for me at this moment in my career,” he insisted.
“I can’t wait to be part of this group’s drive to win major trophies. Everyone can see that the club has made big steps forward under Erik ten Hag. Having met with the manager and discussed his plans, I couldn’t be more excited for the seasons ahead and am ready for the hard work expected here.
“I’ve always seen myself as a midfielder or a number eight that can obviously get forward, attack, try and score goals, create goals, but also be able to do the other side as well and defend and help the team when we’re under pressure. That’s obviously a massive focus of mine, being able to come here and help the boys in that situation and I know what I can bring to this team and now it’s about going and doing it on the pitch.”
Boasting plentiful experience at the Premier League level and on the international scene, the midfielder should have little worry slotting right in and dealing with the pressure and weight of expectation playing for Man Utd brings.
A real wizard on the offensive end, his movement is unquestionably a vital feature of his game that gives him a firm foundation to wreak havoc all over the attacking half.
Boasting fantastic spatial and positional awareness, plus knowledge of where his colleagues are situated, this is a huge asset of his, which owes much to his nifty scanning and reading of the play.
As a result, Mount instinctively picks his moments when to surge into the area, hit the channels and occupy strategically beneficial zones between the lines in front of the defence and in the half spaces.
So quick to notice when gaps arise and where defenders are located, it’s a pleasure to watch the attentive dynamo exploit openings.
Also extremely well versed in the art of rotating with teammates, dropping deeper (centrally or wide) to form overloads, making crafty runs in transition and at persistently supporting the ball holder, his prowess here will have further endeared him to ten Hag.
Intelligent and with an insatiable appetite for work, this blend will surely elevate United’s offensive threat from the free-wheeling number eight slot he’s set to operate in.
Indeed, his aptitude at the aforementioned notably ensures he relentlessly puts himself in terrific positions to score and create.
A handy finisher, who can score in many ways using power, placement and finesse, plus find the back of the net from range or close with his poaching and reaction skills, this adds to his menace.
Then, when it comes to his passing, and this enhances what he brings to the table, for his capacity to progress the ball is a major weapon. Able to break the lines with penetrative diagonal and vertical passes to remove multiple defenders from the equation, thread precise through balls, engage in intricate combination play and deliver concise crosses and cutbacks, his new partners in crime should relish his polished distribution.
It warrants mention as well what a force he is from set-pieces with his accurate silver service.
Accompanying his pass mastery with his ball carrying qualities, watch for him to breathe life into many attacks with his ability to generate room to shoot, outfox foes with feints, shimmies and stop-gos and twist and turn away from danger in close quarters.
Blessed with great acceleration, agility and a low centre of gravity, this all parlays to ensure he can ride challenges, use his running power to get dangerous on the counter, win free-kicks and maintain possession under duress.
Swift at sizing up situations and typically making sound decisions, there’s every reason to suggest he’ll be a fine addition for United going forward.
Upon shifting the focus to his defensive output, and the energetic Mount will flex his muscles here too. Never afraid to get stuck in, put his body on the line for his team and jet back to support his colleagues, his selflessness is a serious plus.
Having worked under many coaches in a variety of systems, his knowledge of defensive principles is excellent, thus meaning he recognises smartly when to press, block passing routes with his cover shadow, drop back, shift across or cover a teammate.
Extremely fit and full of stamina, his pressing and counterpressing will be particularly crucial in terms of regaining the ball high up to get at adversaries and preventing opponents from hitting United on the break.
Covering the ground incredibly, so tenacious and never shirking his responsibilities, there’s certainly a heap of upside attached to his stopping work.
Ticking just about all the boxes for what ten Hag’s looking for in an attacking midfielder, the confident and tremendously talented Mount is unquestionably an outstanding acquisition.
John Murtough, United’s football director, was immensely delighted to get the deal finalised, stating: “Mason himself is a world-class player, but he also has the ability to improve the players around him through his game intelligence and tactical awareness. We were particularly impressed by his strong desire to join United, and his thirst for further success, as we push to drive up our performance levels next season and beyond.”
A capture that improves United in all phases and makes them a better team, all the signs are positive that he’ll be a brilliant fit to elevate the side.
While it won’t be easy and he’ll inherently need time to adjust to his new surroundings, Mount will be eager to impose himself from the off after so many memorable years at Chelsea.
With the pre-season just around the corner, the fans won’t have to wait long to see their new star strutting his stuff, which will mark the first step towards what the player and the club hope will be a long and successful relationship.