Frank Lampard: In an ideal world Mason Mount would stay
Frank Lampard has reiterated his backing for Mason Mount amidst ongoing conversations surrounding his future at Chelsea, as various other top Premier League clubs consider an approach.
The 24-year-old has been the subject of near constant rumours for the past few months, with names such as Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United all mentioned as possible suitors for the attacking midfielder.
Despite this interest, there are still some who hope Mount will remain at the club he joined at just six years old, including current interim head coach Lampard, who gave him a chance during his first stint in charge of the Blues.
The two also worked together at Derby County, and while during his pre-match press conference Lampard was keen not to speculate too much, his feelings were clear.
When asked whether he was surprised the situation had turned out like this, the 44-year-old responded, “I don’t think surprise in football is the word for these things because a lot of things can happen and I wasn’t involved in any of this, so that’s not the word I would use.”
“It’s a really hard one for me to comment on because I’m not inside Mason’s head, and from the club’s point of view my role is clearly what it is, so in the practical sense of what’s happening it’s completely between both sides on that front.
“I’m not surprised because this is football. Does everyone know that I really like Mason Mount as a lad and as a football player? Yeah sure, of course they do, so I wish him the best personally and obviously sitting here with my Chelsea top on now I’ve seen what Mason’s delivered at this club. But then we’ll see.”
There has been criticism from some quarters that Chelsea may be prepared to part ways with a player who has come through the ranks via youth level, whilst also spending hundreds of millions on some other relatively unproven prospects.
Nevertheless, Lampard looked to strike a balanced tone in his reaction to the potential for one of the club’s homegrown talents to depart this summer.
“I think to be fair to this club, in the last few years particularly, we’ve seen the hard work of the academy for a long, long time with people like Neil Bath and Jim Fraser,” remarked the Englishman.
“That’s come through and been very good and now it’s delivered in terms of people that are affecting the team or have been sold on for big money.
“That’s been a real positive, so I think it’s important that we try and keep that feeling that younger players can see a pathway, get into the Chelsea team and play for the team that they grow to love, which is Mason, which is Reece James et cetera.
“Of course in an ideal world I think that those players stay with the club, but in the modern football world it isn’t always that clear, and again where I’m not part of this one I don’t want to comment much more than that.”
Usually at this stage of the campaign the Blues would either have secured some form of European football, or would hope that they were ver close to doing so – instead, they find themselves with next to nothing to play for.
In fact, it is their opponents on Thursday night – Manchester United – who have that exact fate at stake, with the Red Devils needing a point to secure Champions League football next year.
Lampard spoke about the mindset amongst the group when facing teams enjoying more success than yourselves, challenging his side to use it as motivation for the future.
“When you come up against a team that’s lifting the Premier League trophy or a team that’s freshly qualified for the Champions League you have to understand it,” he explained.
“This is me saying it now, because each player reacts to it, but you have to understand the work and the standards that get you to be in those positions.
“It’s not by chance that Newcastle have now got into the Champions League, it’s through a lot of work from everybody involved at the club, from the coach to the players to the recruitment. All those things have to come together to reach those levels.
“I think for the players they have to understand if they want to reach those players – and some players maybe haven’t been to those levels yet and will aspire to get there – you have to understand there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Impressed with Enzo
Given the calamitous season Chelsea have had, there were many surprised when the club announced that end of season awards would still be taking place, albeit with no in-person ceremony for the men’s team.
If there were to be one player who may deserve an individual award within this squad, it is surely that of Thiago Silva, who even at 38 years old appears one of the most reliable options in the entire team.
Lampard was full of praise for the Brazilian, describing his ability to continue playing at his age as, “an amazing achievement physically”.
He continued: “To see him at this level, he’s an inspiration to all the players, they could and should learn a lot from him in terms of how he looks after himself off the pitch and how he approaches training daily and what he demands from his teammates.
“That’s something that has to rub off at this club more at the minute and yeah, he’s been special.”
“He’s demanding and that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t say he’s the most vocal, everyone’s each to their own personality wise, some players will be really, really vocal in a collective environment, he’s not that.
“He’s one of those players that leads by example, so I think players that play next to him or with him understand what the levels are and what are required.
“If you don’t get them you’ll get a look or a talk, he’s not a screamer or shouter but he’s certainly one that demands from people around him and I think that’s a good thing because at this level you need players like that.”
One other player who has provided at least some sense of optimism about the future for the Blues is Enzo Fernandez, who joined the club for a fee of over £100 million back in January.
The Word Cup winner has started every game since then, and although it has been a tough period for the club, Lampard was adamant that the Argentine should not be tarnished by the poor showings over recent months.
“When results and performances over a season aren’t great it’s almost like a blanket thrown over everybody and you’re all responsible. I think we actually have to look at people like Enzo, at Mudryk, and at Noni, the players that have come in, and say they’re going to need to be given time.
“I think with Enzo I’ve been really impressed with him as a player, his attitude to training, his attitude to games.”
Lampard also gave some intriguing insight into where he perceived the 22-year-old’s best position to be, given he has popped up in a variety of places already throughout his brief Chelsea career.
“My personal view with Enzo is he can play probably all the midfield roles but I think seeing him train and play and getting a feeling from him is that he has probably more to offer than to be a single six.
“As much as he can play in a double six where he can join into the game more, he can play as an eight where he can join into the game more and offer the really good attributes he’s got across his game.
“That’s my personal opinion, and I haven’t actually asked him that question naturally, because in my time here it’s been the fact that he’s been the most natural six out of a midfield that doesn’t have so many natural sixes in my opinion.
“Fair play to him he’s never once said to me, ‘that’s not for me’, because I think that’s what his attitude’s like, he’ll do the best for the team, but I think going forward he can join into the game a lot more.
“We saw little bits of it against Manchester City where he played in the double six, he ended up slightly higher up the pitch and he’s got a really good eye to play forward.
“At the minute that’s something we as a team and we as a club have not been doing enough in my opinion – playing forward and being more direct in our game higher up the pitch, and finding passes that really test an opposition. Enzo can play that pass, so being up the pitch is a good thing for himself.”