Liverpool can’t pay Mason Mount more than Chelsea. This is about respect, or the lack of it, from a section of fans shouting loudest and most frequently.
Two years ago, almost to the day, Mount cut in from the right of Liverpool’s penalty area, curled a shot into the far corner and secured a 1-0 victory for Chelsea. To suggest then that he would swap the blue of his boyhood club for the red of their rivals would have been a madness.
A month later he scored a stunner against Porto and a month after that came another goal in a Man of the Match display to beat Real Madrid and secure passage to the Champions League final, where he assisted Kai Havertz’s winner. As the banner unveiled two weeks ago at Stamford Bridge read, he was ‘the boy who had a dream’ and was living it.
It should be heartbreaking for Chelsea fans that Mount is even considering leaving the club, and yet, a significant number – let’s call them ‘plastics’ for want of a better moniker – would actually prefer to see the back of him.
In the minds of these plastics, Mount is a manager’s pet, promoted above his station, unworthy of a place in the most expensively assembled team in world football. He’s a tryhard, with little end product, for whom passion belies his quality. That is f***ing nonsense.
The argument typically rolled out to defend Mount is that every manager covets his ability. Frank Lampard, Thomas Tuchel and Gareth Southgate all wanted him in their teams, and although Graham Potter has taken him out of the firing line more recently, Mount has started 15 of his 18 Premier League games in charge.
But the stats also show that Mount has been comfortably Chelsea’s best and most consistent forward. No Chelsea player created more chances per 90 minutes than Mount in both 2020-21 (2.7) and 2021-22 (2.2), with only Bruno Fernandes (95) creating more chances in total than Mount (87) in 2020-21. According to the Whoscored ratings, Mount was Chelsea’s best player in 2020-21 and easily their best forward last season.
Even this term, in which his form has undeniably dipped significantly, only Havertz among the Chelsea forwards has a higher rating.
The very fact that Jurgen Klopp wants him at Liverpool should be evidence enough of Mount’s excellence. The German rarely gets transfers wrong, and even less often in the forward positions.
So why is it then, given pretty much every Chelsea player has been rotten this season, that it’s Mount – who has more credit in the bank than almost anyone else – these plastics have such a problem with?
For other Chelsea fans – let’s call them ‘real’ – the fact that Mount has been at the club since the age of six is a huge positive. Like all real football supporters, they will give players like that extra leeway and support because they have the same love of the club as them. Maybe those liberties are the problem for the plastics?
Do they reckon there’s some sort of club nepotism going on? Do they associate more with Mykhaylo Mudryk or Enzo Fernandez because, like them, they have no true affiliation for Chelsea? Do they feel threatened by someone like Mount, who’s been at Chelsea longer than they’ve been a supporter?
Another fallacy, which would be shown to be thus were Mount to make the move to Liverpool, is that he’s being greedy. He reportedly wants pay parity with Chelsea’s top earners, with Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly on around £300,000 per week. Given what Mount’s done for the club (on £85,000 per week) and would almost certainly do for the club above and beyond that pair, that seems reasonable. It’s not his fault the club have shelled out such contracts.
And seeing as reports claim Mount is seriously considering a move to Liverpool – who will struggle to match Chelsea’s £200,000-per-week offer, let alone improve on it – this is clearly not about the money. It’s about respect, or rather the lack of it.
It’s easy to suggest Mount should focus on the support of the matchday crowd – the real Chelsea fans – but that’s far easier said than done given he will experience that adoration for 90 minutes before heading home and being bombarded with insults on social media for days on end from the plastics.
Mount and Chelsea aren’t alone in this. Had Manchester United plastics had their way last season, Marcus Rashford would now be banging in goals for Paris Saint-Germain. He’s the perfect example of the benefit of sticking with an obviously brilliant academy product through a tough spell.
Mount, like Rashford, will come good. The only question is whether he can block out the noise of the plastic fans and come good at Chelsea, or jump ship to Liverpool and come good for a direct Premier League rival.