Mason Mount has received high accolades during the 2020-21 season, with Chelsea veteran Gianfranco Zola joining the chorus of acclaim for a complete player.
Whether a product of the Stamford Bridge academy system has what it takes to cement a regular spot in a star-studded team has been questioned, but Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel have been convinced of his value.
The 22-year-old is already an England international and a Champions League winner, and he set a new personal high in 2020-21 by scoring nine goals and assisting eight times for the Blues.
The development achieved by Mount has been described by Zola, who knows a thing or two about having a talismanic presence in west London: “He’s evolved into a complete player. He can attack, score, assist and defend. In today’s football, this is essential. You could do that before if you could score goals, but today you have to put in a lot of effort if you want to be successful. We witnessed that [in the Champions League final] the other day.”
While Mount has been a picture of consistency, Kai Havertz has progressed as his Chelsea debut season progressed.
The 21-year-old is starting to look like a £70 million ($91 million) club-record purchase, with a match-winning goal in a European finale repaying a major portion of his transfer money and Tuchel’s trust in him as a false nine.
“Kai provided us a surprise the other day,” Zola said, adding that the German international can flourish in that situation.
“No one has ever questioned his technical or intellectual abilities. Maybe we believed he wasn’t finding his place on the field and wasn’t having as big of an impact on the game.
“Because he played so well for the squad, he proved them incorrect.” This role is ideal for him, as well as Chelsea.”
Thiago Silva, a Brazilian defender who is still going strong at 36 years old, is another of Chelsea’s 2020 signings who excelled during his first season in England.
After being forced off during a thrilling triumph against City due to an unexpected knock, he is set to have his one-year contract extended for another year.
“I think one of the strengths of this Chelsea club has been that he has been able to blend great young players with more good seasoned veterans,” Zola remarked of the veteran center-back.
“I feel this is a fantastic combination. You must have both since they are mutually reinforcing.
“Thiago, I don’t know him personally. Based on how he acts and performs on the field, he must be a huge role model for the younger players. He’s being an example and how to conduct oneself on the field.”