Why revenge will not be Mason Mount’s motivation on his Stamford Bridge return

Mason Mount salutes the Manchester United fans

There is unlikely to be so much as a finger raised in celebration, let alone a finger put to his lips or a middle finger flicked at his detractors, if Mason Mount scores on his first return to Chelsea.

Mount goes back to Stamford Bridge for the first time as a Manchester United player on Thursday night knowing all eyes will be on him, whether or not he starts for the first time since November.

The midfielder will have heard some of the derogatory chanting from the away end in the first Premier League fixture between the two sides this season, which he watched from the Old Trafford stands because of an injury.

And Mount will be ready for the fact that some Chelsea fans will arrive at Stamford Bridge with the intention of letting him know exactly what they thought about his move to United.

But Mount has proved he can handle hot atmospheres and still has too much respect and appreciation for supporters who stuck by him, as well as those still at the club responsible for his upbringing and development, to fan the flames.

Mount loved winding up the Leeds United fans, who held his Chelsea allegiance against him when he was on loan at Derby County, and Southampton supporters, who berated him for being a boyhood Portsmouth fan, when he scored against them.

Mason Mount celebrates scoring against Leeds
Mount (right) particularly enjoyed scoring against Leeds - Craig Brough/Reuters

But those who know him well are certain that there will be nothing but respect if Mount follows up breaking his United duck at Brentford with a goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – the place he called home for so many years.

All of his managers, for club and country, have spoken about Mount’s resilience and attitude, and, while he would not be human if he did not feel strange walking into the away dressing room on Thursday night, the 25-year-old will not allow his or anybody else’s emotions get the better of him.

Even with his Chelsea future in severe doubt, Mount – against the wishes of some – played with injuries and risked his long-term fitness last season under Graham Potter and Frank Lampard to try to help the club.

He won the Champions League, the Club World Cup and the Super Cup with Chelsea, as well as twice being voted player of the year, and will no doubt always cherish those achievements, whether or not he ever matches or betters them at United.

Mason Mount celebrates with the Champions League trophy
Mount won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2021 - Darren Walsh/Getty Images

Mauricio Pochettino may never have worked with Mount, as he would have liked to, but he will be understanding of how he will feel and what he will face, having returned to former club Tottenham Hotspur as Chelsea head coach this season.

Nobody at Chelsea or close to Mount wants to revisit the exact reasons behind his departure, with both sides keen to move on, and an appearance for United at Stamford Bridge should bring about some closure.

It has not been a straightforward first season at United thanks to a torn hamstring and then a torn calf, following a final campaign at Chelsea that was cut short by surgery on an abdominal injury and prevented him making a proper farewell.

Mount has been restricted to just 14 appearances this season and has had to put his England ambitions on hold ahead of the European Championship, but the goal against Brentford did give cause for optimism.

And while the injuries have limited Mount’s impact for United on the pitch, they have given him time to settle in the North West and buy a home. Unsurprisingly, his closest friends at the club are said to be those he has shared a dressing room with for his national team, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford, but Mount is also said to have formed bonds with those outside the England circle including Antony and Casemiro.

Mason Mount celebrates with Antony
Mount has formed a close bond with Antony (right) - Andrew Kearns/Getty Images

Of Chelsea’s current squad, Mount was closest to Ben Chilwell, Reece James and Conor Gallagher, who finds himself in a similar position to his former team-mate, with one year remaining on his contract at Stamford Bridge and no agreement over an extension.

Gallagher could yet decide to enter the final 12 months of his deal, but Mount’s hand was in many ways forced by the fact that United, Arsenal and Liverpool all made it clear they wanted to sign him.

Clubs of that size rarely come knocking twice and Mount’s injury problems this season have underlined the risk he would have taken by running his contract down – even though he could have earned much more in signing-on fees had he moved for free.

There also remains the fact that Chelsea could never have spent a British record £115 million on Moises Caicedo, a player the club and the recruitment staff were desperate to land, without agreeing a £60 million deal, £55 million plus £5 million in add-ons, to sell Mount.

And club accounts showed that the transfer went through before July last year, fuelling theories that it helped Chelsea operate within profitability and sustainability rules.

For a player who bizarrely split opinion among some of the Chelsea fanbase, it is hard to predict the exact reception Mount will get on Thursday night. But his reaction is easier to guess and will not involve any raised fingers.

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