Lys Mousset out to repay Slavisa Jokanovic and Sheffield United fans for support with goals
Lys Mousset has set his sights on a regular run of appearances – and goals – for Sheffield United this season, after getting off the mark for the season in the weekend victory over Stoke City.
The Frenchman, who has been plagued by fitness issues throughout his time at Bramall Lane, marked only his third appearance this season with the equaliser against Michael O’Neill’s men, before David McGoldrick netted the winner.
Mousset was back on the bench for the midweek defeat to Millwall as manager Slavisa Jokanović attempts to nurse him back to full fitness and avoid any chance of a recurrence of the hamstring injury that forced him to limp out of the opening game of the season against Birmingham City, and kept him on the sidelines for almost two months.
“It was a special moment for me, my first goal in the Championship, but it needs to be the start of a run of games for me in this team,” Mousset said.
“The way we play, I am confident I’ll score goals because we create a lot of chances. But it’snice to get that first goal of the season, especially because I’ve been injured.
“Missing out through injury isn’t nice and it felt really good to be back out on the pitch with the lads. It’s very frustrating when you can’t influence games.
“I felt really good in pre-season and worked extremely hard during the summer. I was more determined than ever to make a good impression on the new manager and I thought I’d start the season well, after scoring a few times in the friendlies.
“But unfortunately, I stretched for a ball and straightaway, I knew I’d damaged my hamstring.”
Why has Mousset struggled at Bramall Lane?
Mousset was earmarked as a key man in Jokanović’s Blades tenure after scoring in both the Blades’ friendlies against Europa Point and Doncaster Rovers, showing the hunger and ability that has persuaded both the Serb and his predecessor, Chris Wilder, to have so much patience with the mercurial Frenchman.
At times during the Blades’ first Premier League season, Mousset was unplayable. He bullied Phil Jones against Manchester United before beating David De Gea with a wonderfully-effortless effort from outside the area, towards the end of a run of five goals in nine Premier League games that earned the Blades six points and probably repaid his transfer fee instantly.
Frustratingly, for player, staff, fans and club, Mousset has not been able to demonstrate the ability that led to one Blades teammate describe him as a potential £50m footballer on anywhere near approaching a consistent basis.
Injuries have not helped, nor have personal issues away from the field that led to him being granted an end-of-season leave of absence to return to France. Crashing his Lamborghini Aventador supercar in Sheffield, resulting in a six-month driving ban, does not deserve defending but the 25-year-old is now focused on making headlines on the pitch, rather than off it.
“After the season was stopped in March 2020 [because of the coronavirus pandemic] like the team I struggled to find any momentum and last season, I just never got really fully fit.
“Whenever I got in and around the squad I seemed to pick up another knock. But hopefully now I can stay clear of any more problems, find some form and momentum and score a good number of goals to contribute to getting this team towards the top of the Championship.”
When does Mousset’s contract expire?
The ability is undoubtedly there, but time is also running out. The Frenchman signed a three-year deal in the summer of 2019 which will expire next summer and although it has not been publicly confirmed whether such a clause exists in Mousset’s contract, the Blades are known to often include options in their favour to tie players to Bramall Lane for a further year.
A popular figure behind the scenes at Bramall Lane, there are plenty of people wanting Mousset to succeed in South Yorkshire. At his best, he makes his reported £10m fee look a snip; at his worst, it looks as if United overpaid by a few zeros.
Remarkably, he is yet to complete 90 minutes for the Blades over two years after signing, although in mitigation he was withdrawn with a few minutes left in his first season at the club.
“Training has been good,” Mousset added.
“I’ve done two sessions on certain days to try and get myself back in contention and I just want to play and contribute.
“The team struggled in the opening weeks of the season, but we had a really good run after the first international break and that has been talked about, because we need to pick up points quickly before the next break.
“The manager has been fantastic with me since the day he arrived and I want to repay him with a lot of goals, to help the team.
“He and his staff have confidence in what I can bring to the team and I’m desperate to prove them right, and also show the supporters my best form.”
Praise for fellow Frenchman Ndiaye
Mousset is close to another Frenchman in the Blades team, youngster Iliman Ndiaye, who has been given a run in the first-team after a contract dispute was settled by a long-term deal earlier this season.
“His talent is clear to see,” Mousset said of the 21-year-old. “He gets the fans excited and out of their seats, and he’s already shown he’ll score goals and make them for others too.
“He has a bright future ahead and hopefully he is another player who can keep improving and help us get much higher in the table.”