Chelsea manager Frank Lampard believes midfielder Mason Mount has given him a selection headache with his displays in pre-season.
The Blues recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Borussia Monchengladbach in their final pre-season friendly ahead of the new campaign on Saturday. Mount started the game and impressed, with the manager leaving him on the field for the full 90 minutes.
Chelsea start their Premier League season on Sunday, when they face Manchester United at Old Trafford in Lampard's first competitive match in charge. The new manager said Mount's form means he's in contention to feature in that fixture, per Rob Draper of the Mail on Sunday:
"He has done a lot. I'm really happy with how he's training, how he's playing and his status in the group coming back here. The players recognise quality instantly but they also recognise work rate and character—and Mason has all of those.
"He has given me a problem. Ross Barkley also had a good pre-season and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be back later on. It's good, as they're all adaptable. It doesn't have to be just one. They can play in a variety of positions. I couldn't ask for more from what Mason has done."
After Tammy Abraham's goal halved the deficit against Gladbach, Mount won a penalty, which was converted by Ross Barkley. It wasn't the first time Mount has shone in pre-season, as he netted twice in the 4-3 win over Reading.
Chelsea broadcaster Alex Goldberg singled out the 20-year-old for praise after the match in Germany:
Speaking during the summer, Mount commented on how inspiring it is for him to have Lampard as a manager:
Lampard and Mount know each other well, having spent the previous term together at Derby County.
The player was a crucial part of the Derby side, helping the Rams make it to the Championship playoff final. Mount was the controlling influence at the heart of the team and vital to the possession-based football Lampard wanted to play; he also chipped in with nine goals and four assists.
Making it at Chelsea will be a big challenge, though, especially as Lampard has so much quality to call upon in midfield. Nizaar Kinsella of Goal summer up how well Ross Barkley has performed ahead of the new campaign:
In addition to the players mentioned, Chelsea also have Mateo Kovacic, N'Golo Kante and Jorginho fighting for spots in central midfield. Having so many high-class talents available gives Lampard a huge amount versatility.
The upcoming campaign feels like one in which a new talent may emerge for the Blues, though. After the pre-seasons Mount and Barkley have enjoyed, they will both be confident of nailing down first-team places.