England manager Gareth Southgate believes Mason Mount is a “very underappreciated” player amid ongoing debate over the Chelsea midfielder’s place in the Thre Lions’ pecking order.
The 21-year-old scored the winning goal in England’s impressive 2-1 win over Belgium in the Uefa Nations League on Sunday, with the hosts battling back from 1-0 down after Romelu Lukaku had fired the Red Devils into the lead from the penalty spot.
Does Southgate favour Mount over Grealish? Five things to know…
- Jack Grealish already has four goals and three assists across all competitions for Aston Villa this season.
- Mount has one goal and one assist in the same number of appearances for Chelsea.
- Grealish was handed his first England start against Wales last week and grabbed an assist in a man-of-the-match performance.
- But Southgate opted to start Mount against Belgium and was rewarded as the Chelsea man scored the winning goal.
- Mount has a total of nine senior England caps to his name, while Grealish has two.
stats via Squawka’s Comparison Matrix
Prior to the match, Southgate drew the ire of a portion of England supporters for picking Mount in the starting XI over Grealish, who has four goals and three assists in four appearances for Aston Villa so far this season – and also teed up Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s opener during a 3-0 friendly win over Wales last week.
Grealish was named Man of the Match for his efforts against Ryan Giggs‘ men but when asked about the Aston Villa man’s performance in a post-match press conference, Southgate chose to quickly move on and praise Mount’s efforts.
“I’m very pleased with him [Grealish] and he’ll be delighted to have had his first start, he’s a different type,” Southgate said, before adding: “Mount coming on in a similar position, again I thought he had an excellent impact on the game.
“He presses so well, he moves the ball so quickly and he had a real impact in setting up two or three chances, an immediate impact on the game.”
Southgate’s decision to play Mount against the world’s highest ranked team was ultimately justified as the 21-year-old grabbed the winner and the Three Lions boss has since claimed the Chelsea playmaker is an underappreciated commodity who offers England a wealth of tactical options.
“He’s a top player. He can receive [the ball] under pressure,” Southgate told Talksport after the match.
“He’s intelligent with his movement. He’s, of course, still learning. To find space in the first-half was difficult.
“But in a tactical game where it’s just as important defensively what the forwards do, to have a player like him who can do both sides… the way that Marcus Rashford did, the way Dominic Calvert-Lewin did.
“I read a lot of things about Mason and I think he’s a very underappreciated player – but not by us.”