Mason Mount is set to sign for Manchester United.
As reported here by Matthew Cohen, a medical will be conducted today with a contract to be agreed after, confirming the relocation of the 24 year old England international from London to Manchester. An initial fee, worth £55 million, with the potential of £5 million in add-ons represents a fair price for both clubs involved in the deal. The Athletic have explained why Manchester United placed such emphasis on securing Mason Mount’s services, with Erik ten Hag a long-term admirer of the energetic midfielder.
Having first come across Mount in the Englishman’s season-long loan at Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie, ten Hag was impressed by the player’s performance in a 3-2 win for Vitesse against Ajax in March 2018. The Dutch manager has been tracking the player ever since, with good reason.
Mount represents a player as capable with the ball, as without. He ranks in the 87th percentile for tackles, as well as the 93rd percentile for progressive passes amongst attacking midfielders. Being a capable passer and a capable presser are prerequisites within modern midfielders and it is this union of technical proficiency and physical ability which makes Mount ideally suited to ten Hag’s needs at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag was forced to compromise in the centre of the pitch last season. Christian Eriksen, signed astutely on a free, offered the technique on the ball his manager desires, while Fred offered the physicality and energy off the ball.
Ten Hag would switch between the two depending on the opposition, with Fred buttressing the midfield against in the FA Cup final as Eriksen was pushed further forward. Evidently, ten Hag did not trust Eriksen’s physicality and counter-pressing against a midfield such as Manchester City’s. He will not have that problem with Mason Mount.
The Athletic’s article recounts the words of Eric Steele, the former Manchester United coach, who also coached Mount at the U-19 European Championship with England. Steele explained how important the well-rounded nature of Mount’s game was to that English side:
“…he is a very intelligent player. He can score goals. He’s one of the most perfect 10s I’ve seen…he could see a pass, which is important, and he would go beyond the front man…..He is great at nicking the ball, which will suit Ten Hag. He is not a tackler, he nicks the ball off people, he’s clever.”
Mount also was integral to how that side counter-pressed. When England lost the ball, it was Mount who would ‘set the trigger’ for the team to begin pressing.
Conversely, Steele elaborates, if the team were to ‘drop mid-block’ Mount would recognise this and say ‘No problem, we’re just dropping.’ This tactical awareness is fundamental to the midfielder’s game, and a large part of why he so often falls into the category of ‘manager’s favourite’.
The Athletic astutely observed how Mount consistently ranked amongst ‘the top five players for league minutes’ under three different managers in three distinct systems at Chelsea. Thomas Tuchel, Frank Lampard and Graham Potter all valued Mount as a player, even though they often deployed him in different ways.
At international level, Mount is lauded by his manager for similar reasons. This positional flexibility and tactical pliability are assets ten Hag will undoubtedly utilise.
The Peoples Person has provided further explanations on how Mason Mount will be incorporated into the Manchester United squad here, while offering a prediction for what the English midfielder’s transfer may mean for the way in which ten Hag sets his team up next year. Mount represents a player who will help United play proactively, rather than reactively.
The Athletic ends their analysis on Mount by reinforcing how an energetic midfielder is only one component of a three-part list of priorities this summer – an ‘elite goalscorer and a comfortable distributor between the stick’ remain essentials to be secured. But ten Hag has been provided with his number one option in midfield, who will help the team in a number of different ways next season and beyond.