It’s probably fair to say that Harry Chapman’s loan move away from Blackburn Rovers during the summer transfer window.
Having re-joined the club back in January 2019, Chapman had struggled to recreate the sort of form that made him such a popular figure at Ewood Park the previous season, when he had shown such promise as Rovers secured promotion back to the Championship at the first attempt, a season where the winger was badly hampered by injury.
Because of that, with just a handful of appearances under his belt at Championship level for Rovers, the 23-year-old’s temporary move to Shrewsbury Town last month did seem to make sense, and it has certainly paid off.
Since joining the League One club, Chapman has started to really show the form that made Blackburn want to make his loan move from Middlesbrough permanent in the first place, and then some.
In four appearances so far for the Shrews, Chapman has scored four goals – including a couple of stunning efforts – to help to them nine points from a possible 12, which includes big wins over promotion chasing Peterborough – thanks to a double from Chapman – and Sunderland, where the winger again supplied the matchwinner.
That run has seen Shrewsbury move to 17th in the League One table, eight points clear of the relegation zone, and it is no surprise to see that even before that decisive volley against Sunderland, Chapman had been named the League One club’s Player of the Month for January.
Consequentially, it seems as though Chapman is now leaving Rovers with a big decision to make with regards to his future.
As things stand, Chapman’s current contract at Ewood Park is set to expire at the end of this season, meaning Rovers must now decide whether or not to offer him a new deal come this summer.
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Given his form so far during his time at Shrewsbury, you have to imagine that Rovers will be tempted to offer the attacker a new deal, and there is a case to suggest that the circumstances are now falling into place for them to really benefit from the winger’s talents.
It should be remembered that Chapman’s time in League One with Blackburn was blighted by injuries, and despite Rovers’ best efforts all the way through to the deadline the following summer, it was not until halfway through next season that they were unable to bring him, leaving him with half a season of very little game time at Middlesbrough before that move.
That meant that when he eventually did return to Rovers on a permanent basis, Chapman was lacking in the momentum, confidence and match sharpness required to make an immediate impact on the side, and by the time he got to that point, others were already well ahead of him in the pecking order.
As a result, if Chapman is now able to complete the rest of the season without picking up any injuries, while maintaining the impact he is currently making, it could be the case that next season may finally be his moment to shine in the Championship, given he would be returning to Ewood Park in much better circumstances than the last time he made that switch.
With that in mind, you do wonder whether they may now be some pressure on Rovers to get Chapman’s future secured for next season, particularly given that with the speculation around the future of Adam Armstrong – another of Rovers’ loan stars from that League One promotion winning campaign to make their move permanent – the club may well need plenty of attacking reinforcements heading into next season.
But with Chapman’s form sure to attract attention if he continues in that way, that may be easier said than done, although Rovers’ links with the winger mean they still ought to be in a strong position to get that done quickly, before any offers from elsewhere come in for him.
Whether they do do that remains to be seen, but if Chapman continues to play like this over the course of the next few months, it will surely be something they have to consider, to give the winger the Championship chance he may feel he deserves, and the fans the opportunity to watch their so-called ‘starman’, deliver a bit more magic, on the Ewood Park pitch, at a time when they may well need it.