Is Ross Barkley obscured in Mason Mount’s shadow?
Background photo: Brian Minkoff, CC-BY-SA 3.0
There was once a time when people just couldn’t stop comparing Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes. As you’d expect, Manchester United fans favoured the ginger playmaker while Chelsea fans couldn’t stop singing Super Frank's praises. Today, Lampard manages two players who possess the wherewithal to be mentioned in such a debate. The duo of Ross Barkley and Mason Mount have been credited with luminous futures.
Young and talented English players usually have nowhere to hide until they either blossom or fizzle out of the scene. Early in his career, Barkley began getting rave reviews from pundits around the country. Many expected him to go on and become amongst the best attacking midfielders of his generation.
Like it’s the norm for many young players trying to get into the first team of a Premier League club, Barkley had to bide his time. Intermittently, he was sent on loan to gain experience. Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United provided the necessary stomping grounds.
In 2013, Barkley began to blossom like a flower in mid-spring. If he’d gotten tongues wagging earlier on his career, he got heads spinning too. By the end of the 2013/14 campaign, the youngster had appeared 34 times in the league and scored on six occasions.
But his numbers dropped in 2014/15 both in appearances and goals. He figured 29 times in the top-flight, finding the net twice.
Regardless, Barkley was heavily touted for his passing and powerful (but precise) shooting. His technique sparked a resemblance to the gaffer at Chelsea. However, the player hasn’t really sparkled as much as many anticipated. Especially in regards scoring.
Admittedly, Barkley banged in double figures in the 2015/16 campaign, with eight of those strikes coming in the league. Playing for a team like Everton, those were really impressive numbers. But he’s struggled to caress those heights despite playing for an even larger club like Chelsea.
Suffice to say Barkley is loved in England. In spite of his inconsistency, he’s always managed to smuggle his way into the Chelsea and England first team. Until recently…
Mount – the new Barkley
Mount stands for everything positive about Barkley’s style. The youngster can attack, pick a neat pass, set up goals, shoot accurately and score. Unsurprisingly, the Chelsea Academy graduate is now among the most regular faces in Chelsea’s formidable youth army.
Almost identical to Barkley, Mount was shipped on loan to gain vital first-team experience. He was excellent at Vitesse and won hearts at Derby County. Importantly for Mount, he sat under the tutelage of Lampard during his time with the Rams. It was a paramount drill which prepared him for life in the Chelsea first team.
Mount has appeared in every league game for Chelsea this term. Doing so, the 20-year-old has racked up 954 minutes of football and scored four times. He’s also provided two assists. In Europe, the midfielder has started every Champions League game for the Blues. These are stats you’d expect from a Barkley. Instead, the 25-year-old has gone missing after his six league appearance of the season. He’s only managed one goal this term – scoring in Chelsea’s 7-1 rout of Grimsby Town in the EFL Cup.
Barkley has no one but himself to blame for his woes. The player is unfortunate to have his career plagued with injuries. He was sidelined when he joined Chelsea and it seems he’s currently nursing another injury. But when he’s been fit, the attacking-midfielder has struggled to maintain consistency.
Like was mentioned earlier, Barkley is rated in English football - but his reputation is waning while Mount’s soars. It’s up to the former Toffee to change the narrative. Lampard can help by giving him 20-30 minute cameos to rekindle his flame.
For now, though, no one’s going to choose Ross Barkley over Mason Mount...