Manchester United felt that Mason Mount was a Manchester United player from the first time that they made contact with the Chelsea midfielder. There had been a similar feeling when the club’s representatives met Raphael Varane in 2021 and Casemiro last year.
“Great lad, great attitude and ability,” one United source told The National. “He was desperate to join us and he’s desperate to win.” United were impressed, more so because Mount knew that both Liverpool and Arsenal were interested in signing him, too.
Jurgen Klopp was a long-time admirer of Mount and made it clear and that he would be interested in signing him. And Klopp had seen enough of him to know his energy: Mount played 120 minutes against Liverpool in both the 2022 FA Cup and League Cup finals.
Klopp wasn’t alone. Mikel Arteta wasn’t only an admirer, he thought Mount would sign for Arsenal and stay in London.
So why did the player who grew up in Portsmouth, southern England, sign for United?
United manager Erik ten Hag was a major factor. The Dutchman spoke in detail with the 24-year-old England international about how he could help develop him as a player. He talked about the different positions which he could play – and at the top level too. They had common ground. Both had worked in the Netherlands, where Mount played on loan for Vitesse in Arnhem, close to Enschede, where Ten Hag grew up and managed. Both had triumphed at Real Madrid away, Ten Hag as a manager in 2019 and Mount as player in 2022 when he put Chelsea ahead and made an assist in 3-2 away win.
Ten Hag pushed for Mount, saw him as a player younger than most of his midfielders who would give him multiple tactical options since Mount can play in seven different roles, though he’s best centrally. Ten Hag liked his energy and his work ethic; does that mean he’ll play in a deeper midfield role alongside Casemiro? Ten Hag was also impressed by the number of games he’d played for Chelsea: 53, 54 and 53 before a dip last season to 35. He’d also scored eight, nine and thirteen goals in the seasons where he was a Chelsea mainstay.
An England international with 35 caps, Mount had other admirers at United including Darren Fletcher, but Ten Hag was his biggest fan and given the chaos at Chelsea, United felt there was a better chance of getting him than their attempt to sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona a year ago.
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United also knew that it would be difficult to get Mount out of Stamford Bridge. They had found the same problem when they expressed an interest in Christian Pulisic a year ago. United were keen to sign the USA international, and the player was open to a move to Old Trafford, but Chelsea were reluctant to sell to a direct rival. Chelsea, under new owners, began stock-piling players, many of whom were unhappy with their lack of playing time, but, with Financial Fair Play Rules a factor after the London club's huge outlay of more than £600 million in the previous two transfer windows, meant it could be slightly easier this time to lure Mount away.
But dealing with Chelsea was always the issue. The Blues knew Mount was popular with fans and staff, a homegrown hero who had won the Champions League age 21. He played 80 minutes of that 2021 final against Manchester City. He also started in the game when Chelsea were crowned world champions six months later in Abu Dhabi against Palmeiras.
After protracted negotiations, the 24-year-old passed his medical and signed for a £55 million fee, with the potential of £5 million in add-ons which are strongly dependent on United being successful. United would need to win multiple trophies over the coming seasons with Mount playing the majority of the games. Chelsea wanted £70 million, but, knowing that Mount only had a year left on his contract and that he wanted to move to Old Trafford, United held the line on not going above the £55 million fee. It was finally agreed, with Mount signing a five-year contract. He will also receive a significant pay rise.
Many at Chelsea, from the staff to the fans, are hugely disappointed that Mount has left the club. An academy graduate who has twice been the club’s player of the season, who’d made more Premier League appearances than anyone at Chelsea since his debut, more chances and assists created too. He’s now been sold to a direct rival.
Mount initially wanted to stay at Chelsea, but was one of the lowest paid members of the first team and felt he deserved a bigger contract. His agent asked for parity with some of the other established Chelsea players. When Chelsea didn’t oblige, Mount and his agent began to consider other suitors. They should be pleased with the outcome, while United hope to reap the benefit from what they believe is Chelsea’s miscalculation of Mount’s worth.