Manchester United have two season-defining fixtures this week.
The Red Devils will face Barcelona mid-week in the second-leg of the Europa League knock-out rounds, before lining up against Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United at Wembley for the final of the Carabao Cup next Sunday.
United come into this crucial double-header on the back of an impressive 3-0 mauling of Leicester City in the Premier League, a result that consolidated their credentials as title challengers.
Marcel Sabitzer played eighty minutes during the thumping victory, before being brought off for Kobbie Mainoo’s highly-anticipated league debut, with the Austrian delivering another excellent performance in the heart of the United midfield.
There remain doubts, however, over whether the man on loan from Bavarian giants Bayern Munich will get a permanent deal next summer amidst links with other midfielders who may well be better suited to Erik ten Hag’s style of play.
One such player who has constantly been on United’s radar is Chelsea playmaker Mason Mount.
The 24-year-old is out of contract in 2024 and talks to have his deal extended have stalled over recent months, amidst a crisis at the football club, as new man Graham Potter continues to struggle at the helm.
Now, David Ornstein has reported in his column for The Athletic that Mount may well be on his way out with a number of clubs apparently lining up to sign the mercurial Englishman.
Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City are the other three English clubs, aside from United, who remain keen on Mount, whilst Juventus have also been credited with an interest in his services.
Ornstein went on to suggest that reports of Mount demanding a weekly wage of £300,000 are mostly exaggerated, but there remains a vast difference between the two parties at the moment.
Another sticking point has been the Chelsea hierarchy’s insistence that Mount sign a contract of six to eight years, following in the footsteps of fellow Cobham graduates Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah and Armando Broja who have put-pen-to-paper on similar deals in recent months.
Blessed with an abundance of creativity in the attacking third, Mount had worked his way to become one of the most important players in both Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel’s squads over the last few terms, being named Chelsea’s player of the year for consecutive seasons between 2020 and 2022.
He has struggled to replicate that sparkling form of late, with Chelsea themselves a giant mess at the moment, but there is little doubt over the ability that the former Derby County loanee possesses.
Having been at Chelsea since he was six years old and coming through the club’s academy system, a permanent sale will play out as pure profit on the club’s books and help them comply with FFP rules after a shopping spree that would see a spend in excess of £500million over the past couple of windows.
Mount has spoken openly about his love for Chelsea and his desire to continue playing for them.
This summer may prove to be a true test of said desire.