Declan Rice makes major Mason Mount claim amid Chelsea transfer links and contract stalls


Declan Rice has come to a staunch defence of Mason Mount as the Chelsea midfielder continues to be the centre of social media discourse and criticism. Mount is part of the England squad in Qatar for the World Cup but was replaced in the final group game by Jordan Henderson after starting the first two.

His place under Gareth Southgate has rarely been in question having been a standout player for Chelsea over the last two years , but his dry spell at club level has once again seen him under the microscope. Although club managers have universally used Mount - almost regardless of goalscoring form - his position remains misunderstood, says Rice. Speaking ahead of England's last-16 match against Senegal, Rice came to the defence of his childhood friend, saying,

“I don’t need to talk too much about Mase. He probably just doesn’t fit the agenda of what people want an attacking midfield player to look like in this day and age."

Rice and Mount both played together as youth players at Cobham but the West Ham captain was let go aged 14. The 23-year-old defensive midfielder has long been linked with a move back to the Blues, and Rice was full of praise for his international teammate, adding,

“He is one of the best players I’ve played with — and I’m not saying that because he’s my best mate. If you see the way he helps the team, I think that’s why Gareth is so keen on him and picks him all the time. “Not only with the ball, his quality he shows in abundance for England and Chelsea, but the way he is off the ball: you don’t see many number 10s who have that together. He is such a team player, such a hard-working, honest guy.”

Mount's less obvious pressing, space finding and tactical importance aren't easily supported by numbers like goals and assists , which has brought scrutiny to his recent performances. To his own word, they haven't been at the required level, but Rice defended his midfield partner.

“Sometimes fans, people online, social media, they just don’t like him," he mused. "For what reason I honestly don’t know. But, look, his numbers for Chelsea are incredible. “He’s won the Champions League, won the Super Cup, at such a young age and for the rest of his career, he can go on and be whatever he wants to be. And I know he doesn’t let that noise get to him. “Look, let Mase go and do his thing. When he’s doing that it makes me happy seeing my good friend go and perform at the best level.”

Rice and Mount are both in a precarious contract position, though the Chelsea star is more likely to renew his deal than Rice , currently. It's unsurprising to hear Rice defend his friend and teammate, but it's yet another voice to add to those that already applaud him publicly.

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