In the second part of our exclusive interview with Chelsea’s Player of the Year, Mason Mount pinpoints the lessons he’s learnt from the past two seasons at Stamford Bridge and where he can improve further still…
At just 22 years of age, Mount is the youngest winner of the club’s individual accolade voted for by Blues supporters for two decades. The last man to be awarded the prize at a younger age didn’t do too badly in west London and if the midfielder can come close to matching the achievements of John Terry in royal blue then he’ll be very happy with his lot.
In the first part of our special interview, Mount dedicated the award to those he had worked and played with throughout his journey through the club’s Academy, praising the impact of coaches, team-mates and staff on his incredible rise to the top.
Yet development doesn’t stop when a player moves across the road at Cobham from the Academy building into the first team. Mount typifies the modern player with his desire for self-improvement and thirst for learning, absorbing information and experiences from senior colleagues and staff. He isn’t resting on his laurels, even after winning the Champions League in Porto last weekend.
‘I always want to step up in the next season that I play in,’ he claims as we resume our chat with a look ahead to the future. ‘I always want to get better, do more, have better stats, so that’s something at the end of the season that I always try to look at and see where I can improve on.
‘Over the past few months, I’ve felt myself growing as a person, not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well. My role in the team has changed, being a big player and wanting to step up in big moments and really push the boys.
‘I’ve had the captain’s armband twice now and that gives me extra confidence but I definitely think I’ve worked at things. I have that belief that I’m doing well but I can also get even better. That’s something as a player that you need to really improve.’
Like Terry, Mount captained the Blues for the first time within days of his 21st birthday back in January. Skipper of an FA Youth Cup-winning side in his Academy days, the armband itself was not a novel accessory for him but his style of leadership has noticeably evolved over the past five years.
As a teenager and a mercurial midfielder, Mount led by example with actions rather than words, often inspiring those around him with moments of brilliance or a consistently high level of performance. However, a regular place in the team has brought with it confidence and has seen our number 19 develop other means of influence.
‘I’m learning more and more about that role,’ he says of developing as a leader. ‘I had it when I was a bit younger in the youth teams where I was captain a couple of times and leading the boys to a Youth Cup was special. I learnt a lot from that so now coming to this season, I can bring that experience I’ve had in the past and use it but also add things to it as well.
‘When you reach the senior game, you can still be someone that leads by example but you can’t just be that. You need to bring more to the team and as a captain at a big club like this, to have that personality and vocalness around the boys really helps. You need that with a team like this, to lead them when games are tough, to really step up and be a big player, so that’s something I’ve learnt as well to add to my game.
‘I’m always learning and that’s always going to be something that I’m going to get better and better with. You look at the players in the past who have been top players and legends of this club, captains that you can try and take things off. That’s something I’ve always looked at growing up and I still look at now.’
Since making his debut at Old Trafford in August 2019, Mount has made a staggering 123 appearances for club and country. No Chelsea player featured in more games or racked up more minutes than the academy graduate this term.
He is almost always available for selection, rarely misses a training session and that robustness has helped him become such an integral figure in the side, initially under Frank Lampard and now Thomas Tuchel.
Lampard himself once notched a record 164 consecutive Premier League appearances for the Blues so Mount still has some way to go to match that level of consistency but his ability to stay fit and fresh is certainly a significant advantage. So what are his secrets?
‘Being young is one of them because that helps me a lot but it’s also the way I am,’ he explains. ‘I’m always hungry to play in every game and to not miss a single match or training session. You pick up these little knocks now and again but I never think that a little knock is going to stop me from playing or keep me out for a week.
‘I’ll always try to get through it or just strap it up and play if I can. I had one last season with my ankle where I just strapped it up, got through the game and then a week or two later it’s alright. Just being available is a big strength of mine.
‘I always want to be available and play every game I’m involved in and take every opportunity. Hopefully, touch wood, that continues so I can keep playing games and always be available for selection.’
His pinpoint pass to set Kai Havertz away in the Champions League final meant Mount finished the campaign with eight assists to go alongside his nine goals, a decent improvement on 2019/20’s tally of 12 goal involvements.
Yet the midfielder knows he can and must do more in the final third to mark his eye-catching play with productivity. He has yet to hit his goalscoring target of double figures, even though the opportunities have been there and often been spurned.
However, he has a strong message for Blues supporters that he will be back next season looking for ways to be more clinical.
‘You have to set goals before every season and you have to really set the target high to want to achieve that,’ he adds. ‘I always want to go for 10 goals and just came short of that this season but I’ve had a lot chances so I can’t look at it and say I’m happy with nine.
‘I could and should have had way more, which is something that I’ll definitely be looking at. I was actually speaking to Joe Edwards [assistant coach] recently about looking at where on the pitch I am most productive and where I can be more productive. I actually score most of my goals from the middle of the box so where there are areas that I can do better, I need to look at them and see what I can improve on.
‘That’s something that I always look at because I can still keep getting better and better. I can definitely score more goals, especially with the chances I get and the way we’re playing now. I can get my goals up more and obviously the assists as well. I just want to be better for my team-mates and for myself, to improve and keep getting better.’
After two seasons in the team, Mount already has a Player of the Year award and a Champions League winners’ medal yet the general feeling is the ceiling is so much higher for this popular perfectionist. If his quest for self-improvement remains, the sight of Mason collecting both individual and collective trophies will surely be a recurring one at Stamford Bridge.