Lionel Messi’s verdict on Mason Mount hit the nail on the head after the Chelsea star received a Ballon d’Or nomination.
The 22-year-old has become one of the Blues’ most important players under Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel, seeing his performances recently rewarded by being named in France Football’s 30-man shortlist for the most coveted individual award in the sport.
Messi has won the award a record six times and is the favourite to pick it up again, although he hinted at Mount being a contender well before the announcement.
In March 2020, just as the global pandemic began, the Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina forward said of the Chelsea midfielder: “Having watched him play he has the potential to be one of the best.”
The man himself was asked about his nomination ahead of England’s World Cup qualifying match against Hungary on Tuesday, describing the feat as “special.”
“I probably found out at exactly the same time as everyone else so to see that and be alongside those names, it is obviously a dream,” Mount, who racked up the second-most key passes in the Premier League last season behind Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes, explained.
“I think for all the years that you work hard, dedicate and then see something like that – it shows that it pays off and it’s just the start, it doesn’t stop now.”
Asked if he could even win the Ballon d’Or this year, the Blues star laughed: “I doubt it, but you never know.
“The most important thing for me is that I continue to keep trying to hit the levels that I have set before and go even further, that has always been my mentality and hopefully that continues.”
In April of this year, Tuchel labelled his No.19 “the full package” and stated that “there are no limits” on what Mount could achieve, having started him in almost every match of his Stamford Bridge tenure.
“He is incredibly talented and even more importantly, he has the personality at a very young age to keep his feet on the ground,” the German tactician told Sky Sports.
“It doesn’t make a difference if he is playing short-sided games, or four against four or if he plays out there in boxes.
“It’s what he would do if he was not a professional player, he would be in the park and would do the same stuff and I have a feeling he is very aware of how he arrived at this point in his career,” Tuchel continued.
“It makes him very self-confident, it makes him appear very humble and very hungry to learn and these are the big circumstances to have a big career.”
The Blues boss added: “He is crucial for our game, he is an absolutely key player and he deserves all the support that we give him.”