Manchester United’s New Signing: Mason Mount
Manchester United confirmed the signing of Mason Mount from Chelsea earlier this week, presenting the English midfielder as their first signing of the summer. The 24-year-old has been handed the famous number 7 shirt after signing a contract worth a reported £250,000 a week.
Transfer Dealings and Previous Signings
After weeks of haggling, United finally agreed on a fee of £55mil, with an additional £5mil in add-ons, with Chelsea bringing to an end an extended saga that saw Mount linked to both Liverpool and Arsenal before both went in different directions. Mount had run his contract down to the final 12 months and had signaled his intention to leave for free next summer if Chelsea didn’t facilitate a move this summer.
The fee is high for a player with one year left on his deal, especially when you consider the poor season he had last time out and the fact that he’s coming off a season-ending pelvic surgery, but Manchester United always overpay for players. It’s what they do. Run through their signings since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and you’ll find very few signings United have made at good value.
Mount’s Role in United’s Squad
But let’s forget the price for a second and focus on where he fits in the team. Mason Mount has spent the majority of his career playing in two positions. As a number 10, primarily in a 4-2-3-1, or as a left winger in either a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3. He’s very good in both positions, because he’s a very good player.
This issue at United is that the two best players at the club are Bruno Fernandes, a number 10, and Marcus Rashford, who predominantly plays as a left winger. So is Mount joining to be a backup for those two? That would be strange, given the fee and the presence of Alejandro Garnacho and Jadon Sancho at the club. So surely Erik Ten Hag has a different plan for Mount.
Suggested Midfield Role for Mount
It has been suggested that he will replace Christian Eriksen in midfield, next to Casemiro and in support of Fernandes. Multiple outlets have suggested that Ten Hag believes Mount to be ideal for this role.
Transfermarkt will tell you that Mason Mount has played 82 career games as a central midfielder, but a look through those games and a check of the players he was playing alongside, as well as checking the formations on other sites, will tell you that the number is actually far lower. Closer to 20. With the vast majority coming in the Eredivisie and Championship.
Mount’s Skillset and Compatibility with Eriksen’s Role
Mount has minimal experience playing in central midfield and doesn’t possess the same type of skillset as Christian Eriksen. Mount’s a good passer of the ball and an excellent crosser, but his offensive skillset works best in a largely off-ball role outside of the final third. He’s outstanding at timing his runs into the penalty area, finding space in a crowded box, or playing quick one-twos with teammates to manufacture shooting opportunities.
He doesn’t possess Eriksen’s ability to dictate and control the tempo and flow of a game. He doesn’t have Eriksen’s passing range or his vision. Playing Mount deeper, with Fernandes as the 10, will take away much of what makes Mount such a good player.
Final Reflections on Mount’s Signing and Role
United came into the summer needing quite a lot of new arrivals, and a central midfielder to split minutes with Eriksen was definitely one of them, but Mount is ill-fitted to that role and the roles he does fit did not need replenishing.
Mount might be able to adapt to the role, but it will take time and a lot of patience, but he might not. In which case he will become a very expensive squad player signed using money United could have put to better use.