Mason Mount has a major chance at Chelsea this season.
The attacking midfielder has enjoyed an excellent pre-season under new boss Frank Lampard and scored twice in a friendly victory over Championship side Reading.
Mount, of course, spent last season on loan at Derby County, playing under Lampard, and emerged as a genuine star.
In 44 appearances in all competitions, Mount scored 11 goals and registered six assists, with one of the latter coming in the club’s EFL Cup defeat to the Blues at Stamford Bridge.
He has everything it takes to be a first-team player at Chelsea, too.
Indeed, per WhoScored, in the Championship, Mount averaged 2.5 shots per game, 1.9 key passes and 1.4 tackles.
This is an all-action midfielder and to watch him is to be reminded of Lampard, who used to arrive late, score goals and create chances for his team-mates.
Now, this all has to be contextualised.
Mount was one of a number of loan players sent away by the Blues last season and, while he thrived, Chelsea have an absolutely torrid record when it comes to blooding youngsters and giving them a chance.
Indeed, Callum Hudson-Odoi, the winger who is likely to sign a new contract, was only really given an opportunity by ex-manager Maurizio Sarri because Bayern Munich were seriously interested in taking him to the Bundesliga.
He has grabbed it with both hands but before him the last genuinely excellent academy graduate was John Terry.
That is not to say there haven’t been good players coming through the system. Chelsea had high hopes for Josh McEachran. At the age of 17, he played alongside Lampard in the Champions League for the Blues. Now, he’s without a club after being released by Brentford, having made a total of 22 senior Chelsea appearances.
A similar midfield dynamo to Mount, McEachran was seen as the Blues’ next great talent, a central player capable of picking the lock of most defences. He is currently on the scrapheap.
Michael Mancienne, the player who was called up to the England squad by Fabio Capello prior to making his competitive debut for Chelsea, is another who struggled to make his way into the first-team.
He made just six senior appearances for the club and he has since played for Hamburg, Nottingham Forest and is now at New England Revolution in America.
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The stories continue. Ryan Bertrand, the left-back now starring at Southampton, was on the books at Stamford Bridge but was unable to break through; he made 57 appearances in total but the most action he ever saw in the Premier League came in 2012/13, when he made 19 outings.
Lewis Baker, another midfielder who has been heralded as a major talent and who actually won the club’s Young Player of the Year award in 2013/14, has made just one senior appearance for the Blues. He’s 24 and is currently on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf, his seventh loan spell in his time at Stamford Bridge.
It would take a remarkable turnaround for him to actually force his way into Lampard’s first-team.
The history, then, is against Mount and there is a common thread here; every player mentioned thus far is English.
Chelsea do not tend to promote British talent and to examine their squad last season is to see a startling statistic: of the English players in the squad, only Ross Barkley, signed from Everton, having been schooled at the club, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, promoted because the club needed bodies in midfield, made 40 or more appearances in 2018/19.
Even Hudson-Odoi, the winger wanted by Bayern, made under 25 appearances. Gary Cahill and Danny Drinkwater made nine between them, while Ethan Ampadu, the Wales international, had five outings in total.
One has to speculate how many opportunities have been missed by the England team because of the club’s refusal to promote from within.
With Euro 2020 looming, though, Mount has a special set of circumstances.
He has worked with Lampard, he knows him, he respects him, he has shown him exactly what he can do.
There can be no pleading ignorance here; no excuses of not watching the youth team, of having players who suit the team better.
Of course, promotion was a step too far for the Rams last season, but Mount effectively used the campaign as an audition for a bigger role and, to everyone watching, he passed.
He had better hope Lampard feels the same way, and that he isn’t consigned to the scrapheap either in MLS or to free agency like his contemporaries.