Ones To Watch: Tahith Chong; Can the Dutch sensation make it to the highest level at Old Trafford?

Manchester United’s U18’s are in red-hot form this season and United’s academy, which was supposed to be in a “crisis”, seems to be doing pretty well for themselves. From ending in the lower half of the table last season, United’s academy are right up there this time. But one thing that really stands out for the United youngsters, is the progress in the attacking department. They have now scored 41 goals in just 14 games, only five less than their grand total from last season in 29 games.

With so much going right for the attack, a lot of focus has been on the teenage sensation Angel Gomes. But another player who has been putting in good performances and has been revered in the footballing circuit is Tahith Chong. Chong, who was born in Willemstad, the capital of Curacao, moved to Rotterdam to pursue his footballing career when he was 10 years old. He has always been recognized as a special talent and Feyenoord academy tried their level best to keep their hands on the youngster. Manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst was brought in to help Chong stay back at Feyenoord. But with so many major European clubs hovering around it was only a matter of time that Chong moved on to better things.

The sixteen-year-old, who will turn 17 next month and is part of the Netherland’s U-17 squad, accepts that he would have stayed back in his home country had the talks about his contract were handled better.

“We were talking about a contract. I would have liked to stay longer at Feyenoord because it’s my club.

“The discussions were very vague and I had expected more of it. Only after that conversation, I went to talk to Manchester United and I chose this.”

In the end, it was United’s gain and the strong infrastructure and youth system is what made Chong choose United over other European giants.

“I am definitely impressed by the club. United have good accommodation for youth players and it is up to me to make that step. My parents will go to England and it’s good to have their support there.”

Mark Lievige Adriaanse, the Dutch journalist, while talking about Chong, told Squawka what can the United fans expect from the explosive looking left winger.

“His technique, oversight and pace are really great. He thinks and acts very fast in a game and has little trouble dribbling past defenders, giving good crosses to teammates and scoring surprising goals – he already has 15 in 21 games this season.

“He is good with both feet and often plays as an inverted winger, while at the same time being able to give crosses with his left foot. The combination of pace, technique and oversight make him really special. He’s just 16 but is very well-developed if you compare him with other players his age. His explosiveness is quite special I’d say.”

He also mentioned, who he reminds him of. Some United fans might not like the answer but it was Memphis Depay, although he was talking about the one in PSV Eindhoven and not the one United fans have seen for the past year and a half.

“Memphis Depay is physically much more developed than Chong is at this moment, but I think they both have the same explosiveness – or, at least, Depay had this at PSV. They can turn a game around on their own.

“For me, two things stand out [about Chong]: he scores really great goals from outside the box, and he quite easily adapts to a higher level.”

One problem for Chong’s first team fortunes might be the number of players that can play in the exact same position as he likes to. Left wing is one of the most competitive positions in the current United first team. Although, Chong has at least a couple of years ahead of him before he can even have a sniff at the first team opportunities, with Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Memphis Depay fighting for the left-wing role, his introduction to the first team will be difficult. But that is what playing for United is all about. Being the giant of a club that United is, there will always be tough competition and high level of standards to maintain. But if Chong can maintain the performances that we have been seeing this season, he definitely looks the part, to make it to the highest level. Can he keep up with it or not, is what only time can tell but for now, he certainly seems to be one to watch for the future.

Written by Chinmay Padhye


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