Over the course of this season, two new English midfield stars have emerged – Mason Mount and Phil Foden.
Of course, they’re not that new. They’ve been on everyone’s radar for some time now. It just cannot be stated enough how phenomenal the pair of them have been this season.
Undoubtedly, they’ll be heading to the Euros this summer. Either of them missing out would be particularly bizarre at this point. England do have a selection of talented attacking midfielders, but none quite as promising as these two.
While neither are perfect fits for Gareth Southgate’s system, he has to find a way to fit them both in. They’re simply too good to be left out.
While they perform very different jobs for their respective teams, they’re similar enough to be accurately compared. Foden is the skilful, tricky type of attacking midfielder, while Mount tends to play a more diverse role in his position.
However, this poses the question: is one better than the other? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
Comparing Mason Mount and Phil Foden
Mount’s work ethic is genuinely incredible. He covers a wide amount of space in the opposition’s half and always makes himself available as a passing option. It’s an understated part of his game, which is unfortunate.
He’s excellent at locating pockets of space in the final third. Given his young age, his positional awareness and anticipation is inhuman.
Foden may be the better dribbler, but Mount can also ghost past his man with ease. He doesn’t get to do it as often, due to Chelsea’s intricate passing system. However, he’s extremely composed on the ball and has no problem moving around with it.
Defensively, Mount puts in much more of a shift than Foden. Granted, it’s not either of their primary roles, but, in the modern game, a strong defensive mindset is paramount wherever you play. Mount isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.
Some may brand Mount as a system player, but this would be particularly unfair. He is capable of creating chances for both himself and his teammates with regularity. Just because he’s a perfect fit for Chelsea’s game plan shouldn’t detract from his talents as an individual.
Foden is certainly the flashier of the two. He’s more likely to attempt dribbling through a team, rather than passing and moving around it.
Many have cited Foden as a breath of fresh air in the modern game. Players who run with the ball and take on defenders are rare nowadays, given the current emphasis on high pressing. It’s simply more difficult for one player to hold onto the ball for a substantial amount of time.
Thankfully for Foden, he’s both skilled and intelligent enough to avoid punishment for this. He knows when to release the ball or move it at the last second to draw a foul.
Of the two, Foden is marginally a better goal scorer than Mount. He’s managed eight goals in 28 league appearances this season, while Mount has six in 35. They both have the same number of assists, with five each.
He’s not a perfect player, however. Foden’s enthusiasm to drive forward can lead him into dead ends, where he risks being dispossessed or having to play the ball backwards.
Ultimately, Foden’s greatest attribute is also his Achilles Heel. Teams are set up to prevent players like him running through them. Despite this, Foden’s dribbling is so precise that it often doesn’t matter.
Who is Better?
The two are extremely talented players and bring their own sets of strengths to the table. To say one is unanimously better than the other would be both unfair and false.
Mount is more suited to the modern game with his work rate, but Foden brings that schoolkid attitude of always wanting to take on his man and drive forwards. There are few players of this mould today. His dynamism brings an element to Manchester City’s game that most teams don’t have.
Foden has more natural ability than Mount. His deft, effortless dribbling is a testament to that. Mount on the other hand is more intelligent, a necessary trait when considering how complex Chelsea’s system can be.
In terms of modern football, Mount is the more complete player, but Foden’s magical ability on the ball gives him a slight edge over his Chelsea counterpart.
It will be interesting to see how the two fare in the Champions League final, if they both play. We know how Pep Guardiola likes to rotate his squad.
Ultimately, they’re both excellent footballers. Comparing them almost feels distasteful – we should just acknowledge and appreciate their respective abilities. Mount and Foden are wise beyond their years and will have glittering careers in professional football. That statement comes without any doubt.
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