Mason Mount says that the comparisons between him and Jack Grealish are unfair. It has become fashionable, certainly on social media, to paint them as rivals at England level, to see them as an either/or choice for Gareth Southgate’s team.
Caricatures of the pair have formed, with Mount the clean-cut, hard worker; the favourite son of managers and Grealish the maverick rogue. The truth is somewhere in between the extremes. Mount is confident that they can play in the same line-up, not least as he would prefer to operate in a deeper midfield position.
Southgate has settled on a 3-4-3 system as his blueprint for the European Championship next summer, which he will continue to fine-tune in the upcoming matches against the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Iceland.
The manager has said that he considers Grealish to be a wide attacker and the Aston Villa captain is most at home on the left. Southgate started Mount off on the right wing in last month’s home games against Belgium and Denmark, although the Chelsea player enjoyed himself when he was switched into one of the formation’s central roles in the away game against Denmark in September.
“I’ve played midfield my whole life,” Mount said. “I’ve varied between playing a bit more forward in a No 10 position but I always kind of see myself as a No 8. I’ve definitely got longer passing in my locker and you can bring that out more when you’re playing in that No 8 position.
“I do like that [central] role. It allows me to build up play with the ball and also get forward and join the attack. With the attack threats we’ve got in this team, for me to be deeper suits me and the way I play.”
On Grealish, Mount added: “I’d never look at it as a rivalry. We are two different players and we do different things. We can play in different roles. So the comparisons are not just. Hopefully we can all work together, we can play together and do the best we can.”
Mount has enjoyed “a couple of looks” at his deflected winner against Belgium but he generally does not dwell on the past, whether good or bad, or spend time on social media.
“As a footballer nowadays, the biggest focus you can have is on playing and blocking out everything else that comes with it – a lot of things do come with being a footballer,” Mount said. “I’m very headstrong and I don’t really let too many things get to me.”
Mount was asked whether he had ever felt like the teacher’s pet. “Not at all,” he replied. “I’m a player that wants to do his best for the team and work hard. Maybe people take that the wrong way, I don’t know.”