It is without a doubt that the Netherlands’ three biggest club sides are AFC Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and reigning Champions Feyenoord, however scratch beneath the surface of the Eredivisie and there continues to be a common theme year after year; a wealth of fantastic young players with raw, untapped potential.
In this new series exclusive to Total Dutch Football, Joe Donnohue looks at one of the ‘Eredivisie Standouts’ who continues to leave his mark on the league outside of the traditional ‘Big Three’ squads.
Mason Mount – Vitesse Arnhem
Chelsea’s policy of loaning young players the length and breadth of the footballing world is well-known across footballing circles. One such beneficiary, if you will, of this policy is Chelsea’s 19-year-old attacking midfielder Mason Mount.
This season the English teenager has spent the season at Vitesse Arnhem, notorious for being the recipients of many a Chelsea loanee over the past number of years. Not all are a success and some fail to adapt to life across the North Sea but Mount is beginning to look like a real contender for the odd cameo in Chelsea’s first team.
Mount has three goals in his last seven Eredivisie matches, claiming the Man of the Match award in three of his last nine.
The 19-year-old was largely restricted to brief appearances from the Vitesse bench at the beginning of the season managing just 107 league minutes by the time November arrived. However, since then Mount has started all but one of Vitesse’s league games and it has paid dividends for both the team and the player.
Four goals followed which brought his overall tally to six for the season, along with two assists. Mount has not missed a single minute of Eredivisie action since the 19th November 2017, a stretch which has seen Vitesse win five times and draw three in 12 matches, including a dazzling display in the most recent victory over reigning champions Feyenoord.
In terms of direct goal involvement, Mount has been involved in nine Vitesse goals this season, which trumps his four goals and three assists in last season’s Premier League 2 campaign for Chelsea’s U-23 side. This has been achieved in 500 fewer minutes too, highlighting his progression as a footballer over the past year.
The England U-19 international operates in an advanced role, often just behind the striker Tim Matavz.
Having had only one season of U-23 under his belt, it was anticipated that Mount wouldn’t play a starring role in Vitesse’s season, rather it would instead be a growth experience and he would be around the first team but limited to opportunities from the bench.
Mount has shown resolve to fight for a regular berth in Vitesse’s team and maintain it with good performances. Averaging 2.5 Key Passes per 90, it is clear that Mount has natural ability to accurately find a teammate and also vision that not all players possess.
This is evident when watching the teenager’s performances. He displays a clear poise and comfortability on the ball. At times his passing decisions are questionable but that can be attributed to his confidence at attempting difficult passes when perhaps there is a simpler option available.
A great deal of Mount’s key passes come from set pieces, either from free-kicks or corners. As Vitesse’s designated taker of set pieces Mount clearly has superior technique to many of his senior teammates despite being many years their junior.
Going back to his audacity to attempt more difficult manoeuvres, this is reflected in his dribbling statistics. In the Europa League particularly, Mount likes to open his legs and take on his opponents, averaging close to three successful dribbles per 90. His success rate at this is one of the competition’s highest at 92%.
This data is possibly not as representative as his Eredivisie statistics given the fact that he has played only 367 minutes in Europe this season, as opposed to his 1200 in the league. It is still impressive, nonetheless, especially considering his success rate in the league is still relatively high at 70%.
Mount’s shooting accuracy is very impressive, having scored six league goals from just 13 shots on target. This is notable for a number of reasons, even more so given the fact that he frequently takes free-kicks in shooting territory. His free-kick which looped over the PEC Zwolle goalkeeper at the end of January showed either a stroke of good fortune or exceptional vision and technique.
The Chelsea loanee is a talent, that much is clear. He has struggled to replicate his Eredivisie output in the Europa League, potentially hinting at the fact that he is not ready to play at a higher level at this moment in time. Although, given his progression over the past year and exposure to first team football in a competitive environment, there appears to be a strong correlation.
One thing is clear; once Mount returns to Stamford Bridge his days of regular football in the U-23’s is over. He has demonstrated his ability to play – and shine – at a much higher level.
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