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What Will Mason Mount Bring to Manchester United?

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Mason Mount had his first-ever taste of action in a Manchester United shirt earlier this week, as he played the first 45 minutes of a routine, 2-0 pre-season friendly win over Pennines rivals Leeds.

While Mount failed to score or assist, he was as energetic as ever for his new side, buzzing around the midfield with relish while taking every opportunity to showcase his creativity in the final third.

Of course, it’s hard to read too much into such a match, but Mount undoubtedly impressed his teammates and the fans who chose to watch the action. But what exactly will bring to United once the season gets underway for real, and where will he be deployed by Reds’ boss Erik ten Hag? Let’s get into it!

Mason Mount – The Headline Numbers

Across his entire professional career, Mount has played 324 competitive games, scoring a total of 65 goals while contributing 62 assists.

This includes impressive loan spells in the Eredivisie and UK Championship (with Vitesse and Derby County, respectively), as well as the 24-year-old's time at Stamford Bridge.

These are relatively impressive numbers, but to provide further clarity, we’re going to focus on Mount’s performance during the 2021/22 campaign. This was the Englishman’s best from a statistical perspective, while it also came under the shrewd tactical stewardship of German head coach Thomas Tuchel.

During this campaign, Mount played a total of 53 games (41 from the start), while he contributed an impressive total of 13 goals and 16 assists. Primarily, he was deployed in an advanced midfield role behind a central striker in Tuchel’s compact 3-4-2-1 shape, which means that he was operating in many of the same spaces that he’s likely to under ten Hag.

Mount’s tally included just a single penalty goal, while he hit the back of the net every 291.07 minutes across all competitions. Overall, he scored or assisted a teammate every 130.4 minutes that he was on the pitch, highlighting the player’s immense creativity, vision and eye for goal.

What’s really interesting is that Mount performed his new Manchester United teammate and potential creative foil Bruno Fernandes during the same campaign.

In fact, the Portuguese midfielder played 46 games that season and 43 from the start, while scoring just 10 goals and providing 14 assists. This translated into a goal contribution every 386.10 minutes, while Fernandes recorded 160.80 minutes per goal or assist over the course of the campaign

So, from the perspective of attacking statistics, Mount was a more effective and creative offensive outlet than Fernandes throughout 2021/22, which is no mean feat given the Portuguese player’s renowned ability to score and create from midfield.

In the Premier League alone that season, Mount’s 10 assists put him in the 96th percentile for this key metric. He was also in the 95th percentile for key passes (58 completed in total and 2.19 per 90 minutes), while he achieved a similar ranking for completed crosses (43 out of 153 in total).

What About Mount’s Defensive Numbers?

Some may argue that this is an unfair comparison, of course, as it takes the numbers from Mount’s best-ever season and contrasts these with the fruits of Fernandes’ worst EPL campaign.

Still, there’s no doubting Mount’s creative ability, which can clearly thrive when the player is afforded attacking freedom within a compact team shape. It’s also apparent that Mount and Fernandes can play together in ten Hag’s system, with the Portuguese dovetailing with Christian Eriksen to great effect for much of last season.

We’ll discuss Mount’s most likely position a little later in the piece, but it’s also important to consider the Englishman’s defensive attributes and statistics. After all, ten Hag has already spoken openly about Mount’s dynamism and energy in the middle of the park, referring to his immense work rate off the ball and how this can improve United’s work rate when compared to last season.

Despite his advanced starting possession, Mount completed 13 interceptions (and 0.49 per 90 minutes) during the 2021/22 EPL campaign, while engaging in 230 ground duels (or 8.67 per match).

The latter stat put Mount in the 49th percentile among all players, while it’s also particularly impressive for an attack-oriented player.

Similarly, Mount found himself in the 59th percentile for completed tackles in 2021/22, attempting 41 at a rate of 1.55 per 90 minutes. This reflects the player’s tenacity and off-the-ball endeavour, which will prove crucial for a United side that often lacked physicality in attacking areas last season.

Former Chelsea boss embraces Mason Mount after a Champions League clash against Madrid [GETTY]
Former Chelsea boss embraces Mason Mount after a Champions League clash against Madrid [GETTY]

If you trawl back to the 2020/21 season (initially under the tutelage of Frank Lampard and then Tuchel), Mount’s off-the-ball work was also impressive. More specifically, he made 416 pressures and 51 tackles during this campaign, while completing nearly double the amount of interceptions (24) and 30 blocks.

Of course, these numbers reflect the fact that Chelsea often struggled to control possession or the tempo of matches under Lampard, but they also highlight Mount’s adaptability and ability to influence the game positivity even when he’s starved of the ball.

Mount at United – An Upgrade on Eriksen?

It certainly appears as though ten Hag will deploy Mason Mount in an advanced number eight role alongside Fernandes, reprising the role undertaken by Christian Eriksen for much of last season.

However, Mount’s relative youth, endeavour and tenacity make him a significant upgrade on Eriksen off-the-ball, while in a progressive and structured team shape, he’s already demonstrated his ability to consistently create chances for his teammates and score goals.

Interestingly, Mount’s also an effective dribbler and ball carrier, with United arguably lacking such attributes in their midfield last season. In 2021/22, for example, Mount attempted 42 dribbles and found himself in the 70th percentile for this metric, while he achieved the 66th percentile for the number of dribbles completed during the campaign (18).

Clearly, he’s a confident ball carrier who will add this dimension to United’s midfielder, both from deep and in the final third.

With all of these points in mind, Mount is almost certain to start alongside Fernandes and in front of Casemiro for United next season, as ten Hag looks to create an attack-oriented but dynamic midfield that’s packed full of versatility. This should improve United’s midfield both in and out of possession next season, while there’s also room for improvement and further development under ten Hag given that Mount is still only 24.

As for Eriksen, he will remain a key squad member and valuable understudy to both Mount and Fernandes, and he could prove pivotal as the Reds will once again compete on four fronts.

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