Barcelona legend Lionel Messi has tipped Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount to reach the top.
The Blues star has enjoyed an encouraging debut season in the Premier League under Frank Lampard, after excelling under the Chelsea boss at Derby County last season.
Mount then returned from his loan spell and has been an integral part of the Blues’ first team, scoring six goals and providing five assists in 35 league games.
And his form at Stamford Bridge has seen the England international tipped to reach the top by several leading figures in the game, including the player who is widely considered as one of the best of all time.
Messi said: “Having watched him play he has the potential to be one of the best.”
Sky Sports pundit and former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness concurred with the superstar, hailing Mount as a “star in the making”.
Speaking before Chelsea’s 2-1 win against Arsenal in December, Souness claimed England manager Gareth Southgate should be looking to build his side around the Portsmouth-born star.
I thought he was fabulous [against Tottenham],” the Scot told Sky Sports.
“That day Chelsea were almost faultless. The only criticism you have is they didn’t score enough goals.
“They played with real purpose in midfield and the ball was always played forward. I think he [Frank Lampard] has made his mind up that he plays Jorginho or Kovacic.
“I think if you are an England manager you have got to be looking at him very closely. I know he is young. Starting with him, building your midfield around him.
“He silky, sees a great picture, has brilliant technique, looks to be a great type and works his socks off.
“A real team player with having all that ability it is what you want. He is a star in the making and I would think looking at him and his personality and the way he reacts to things on the field he is not someone who will allow the big hit to arrive on his shoulders. I’m a big fan of his.”
Blues boss Lampard also spoke of how Mount impressed him with his quality, work rate and character right from the very start of the season.
“He’s done a lot,” Lampard said in pre-season. “Coming back here, obviously I worked with him last year, and I’m really happy with how he’s trained and his status within the group.
“The players recognise quality instantly, but they also recognise work rate and character. Mason’s got all of those and he’s given me a problem.
“Ross Barkley’s also had a good pre-season and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be back later on. It’s good because they’re all adaptable and can play in a variety of positions amongst themselves.
“I couldn’t ask for more from what Mason’s done.”