Wearing the iconic number 7 shirt adorned by Manchester United greats such as Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham, Mason Mount became the club’s first signing of the off-season on Wednesday.
And upon the completion of his £55 million ($69 million) transfer from Chelsea, the 24-year-old midfielder announced his intention to emulate United’s past stars.
Mount said, “I am hugely ambitious; I know how wonderful it feels to win major trophies and what it takes to do so. I will give my everything to experience it again at Manchester United.”
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The number 7 has been worn by some of United’s greatest players, including 1960s icon George Best, Bryan Robson, known as ‘Captain Marvel’ in the 80s and 90s; and Eric Cantona, who inspired the start of the club’s nearly 20 years of dominance in English football in the 90s and 2000s.
Beckham and Ronaldo are global icons who have made progress in the sport, as well as won football’s biggest prizes.
In other words, it’s a big shirt to fill. Not that United think it will be a problem for the player who won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2021 and has established himself as an England regular.
United Director of Football John Murtaugh said: “Mason is an extremely intelligent footballer and has a number of excellent technical qualities who will make a valuable contribution to our team.” “We have long admired his talent, so we are delighted that he has chosen to take the next step in his career here at Old Trafford.”
The number 7 shirt has been vacant since Ronaldo’s second stint at United ended with bitterness last November, when his contract was terminated following an inflammatory interview with Piers Morgan in which he criticized United ownership and manager Erik ten Haag. was criticized.
In handing Mount the shirt, Ten Haag made it clear how important he believed his signing would be to the club’s efforts to return to the pinnacle of English football after 10 years without a league title.
Murtaugh said, “His style of play and attributes are a perfect fit for this team, and we all believe he will continue to improve by working with Erik ten Haag and his coaching staff.” “Mason is a world class player himself but he also has the ability to improve the players around him through his game intelligence and tactical awareness.”
While the number 7 has been worn by United greats, it has also made a huge impact on many players – especially since Ronaldo left for Real Madrid in 2009.
Antonio Valencia, Angel Di Maria, Memphis Depay and Alexis Sánchez all struggled to live up to the expectation of wearing it.
Ten Haag’s interest in Mount reportedly dates back to when the Dutchman was Ajax coach and had watched the then Chelsea youth prospect star on loan with Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands.
Now he has found his man, Mount has ended his 18-year stay at Chelsea by joining a United team that has vastly improved in just one year under Ten Haag.
As well as returning to the Champions League, United also won the English League Cup in Ten Haag’s first season at Old Trafford.
Mount said, “Everyone can see that the club has made huge strides forward under the leadership of Erik ten Haag.” “After meeting with the manager and discussing his plans, I couldn’t be more excited for the season ahead, and look forward to the hard work expected here. I am hugely ambitious; I know how amazing it feels to win major trophies and whether it takes a lot to do it. I would give everything to experience that again at Manchester United.”
Mount has signed a five-year deal with the option of a further 12 months. United would be required to pay an additional £5 million ($6.3 million) based on certain goals relating to appearances and success.
Mount joined Chelsea at the age of six and quickly became a fans’ favorite after winning the Champions League, European Super Cup and Club World Cup. He was voted the club’s player of the year twice and went on to play 195 matches and score 33 goals.
“It’s never easy leaving the club where you grew up, but Manchester United will provide an exciting new challenge for the next phase of my career,” he added. “Having competed against them, I know how strong this team is that I’m joining, and I can’t wait to be part of this group’s campaign to win major trophies.”
Mount posted an emotional video message to Chelsea fans on Tuesday to confirm his departure.
“It may not come as a surprise to you given the speculation over the last six months, but it has not been easy to announce that I have made the decision to leave Chelsea,” he said on Instagram. “I know some of you will not be happy with my decision but it is what is right for me at this point in my career.”
While the number 7 shirt has been filled, Ten Haag is still looking for a replacement for Ronaldo.
He wants a top-class center forward to lead United’s bid to win the Premier League title and compete in the Champions League. United have been repeatedly linked with Harry Kane but given the club’s determination to hold onto their star player, doing so with the Tottenham striker seems a tough deal.