MAURICIO POCHETTINO faces a mighty uphill battle to keep Mason Mount at Chelsea.
The new boss has targeted the £60million midfielder’s contract time-out as one of his top priorities when he takes over at the end of this season.
But SunSport are aware that Pochettino’s arrival comes too late to salvage negotiations and that one of Chelsea’s most popular players is set to leave his youth club after 18 years.
Mount, 24, has just under a year left on his contract and talks are in limbo after ten months.
SunSport can reveal that Mount was offered a one-year extension by Chelsea in February but was flatly refused and seen as simply a ploy to increase his transfer fee.
Relations between the players’ representatives and the club are at an all-time low and Pochettino needs a ‘miracle’ to turn the tide.
A Blues source said: “It feels like it’s too late for Mason now.
“Pochettino is good but he can’t do miracles.
“If he had been brought in when Chelsea sacked Thomas Tuchel in September then maybe it would be a different story.
“But in ten months there was no solution and other clubs want him. Good luck to Poch and Mason, but we’re not getting our hopes up.”
Mount is injured but is targeting a return for the final two games of the season – at Manchester United and then at home against Newcastle on May 28.
This could well be the end of the English star’s blues journey, which began when he was six.
Premier League rivals Liverpool and Arsenal are heavily linked with interest in Mount.
And Chelsea will sell if he doesn’t sign a new deal as they don’t want him leaving on a free transfer at the end of next season.
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Poch has agreed to succeed interim boss Frank Lampard but will wait until next month to officially take over.
Former Tottenham boss Pochettino had an interview when Tuchel was sacked in September but chairman Todd Boehly opted for Graham Potter.
Potter was released in April and Lampard came in.
Poch is considered one of the best in the business but wants a big say in the matter and needs to oversee a mass eviction to even the tally.