This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Birmingham City have recently completed a deal to sign Manchester United youngster Tahith Chong on a season-long loan deal.
Chong has caught the eye with some strong performances for the Red Devils’ academy teams, and he’s gone on to make 16 appearances for the club’s first-team in total.
But the Premier League side evidently feel as though his development is best-served out on loan ahead of the 2021/22 campaign, as he signs for Lee Bowyer’s Birmingham City on a temporary basis.
The Blues finished 18th in the Championship table last season, and will be hoping they can challenge higher up the second tier standings heading into the 2021/22 league campaign.
We ask our Football League World writers what they make of Birmingham’s recent transfer agreement to sign Chong on loan, and whether he’d be a regular starter for the Blues heading into the new season or not.
Tahith Chong has not quite hit the heights that were first expected of him when he first entered the scene.
He has shown plenty of promise with his ability on the ball and electric pace, but he has struggled to get the statistics to back him up – in first-team football at least.
However, the Championship is a completely different ball-game and it would be no surprise to see Chong thrive under a demanding manager like Lee Bowyer. Birmingham lacked creativity and goal-scoring opportunities seemed a rarity for much of the season, so a player who possesses the ability to consistently beat his man to get into attacking situations, is something that could boost Birmingham this season.
Birmingham are in the process of re-building, and the business they have done so far has been exciting. Chong is a player who brings that excitement, and if filled with confidence, he could have a very good season at St Andrews.
Chong was one of Manchester United’s hottest prospects a couple of years ago – and they wouldn’t send the 21-year-old out on loan if he wasn’t going to get a lot of game time.
It wouldn’t even be a surprise if United inserted a clause into the agreement stating he has to start a certain number of games, because this man was playing for Manchester United away to PSG in the Champions League not so long ago and it would be a shame to see someone of his potential not fulfil it.
He also played a decent amount of football out in Belgium for the second half of last season with Club Brugge – and to go from that to sitting on the bench in the English second tier wouldn’t be the best step for his career.
However, the Blues only scored 37 goals last season and need something different going forward. This is why Lee Bowyer is likely to give Chong an extended run of games in the first team to show what he can do before he makes a decision on whether to drop him or not.
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This is a signing that really does have potential to be a masterstroke by Birmingham City if they can unlock the talent of Tahith Chong and get him to perform to a consistent standard that he is capable of in the Championship.
That is of course not going to be easy and the 21-year-old has a lot of work to do to fully convince after some mixed loan spells at Club Brugge and Werder Bremen.
Lee Bowyer has not been shy in giving young players a chance in his managerial career so far and during his time at Charlton he got a lot of strong performances out loan players like Krystian Bielik and Josh Cullen. He will therefore have the confidence that he can get the best out of Chong and work with him in pre-season to get him ready for the start of the campaign.
It might be too early to tell if he will be a regular starter for the Blues next term and a lot of it will come down to how he performs in training and whether he can show that he will offer more than the likes of Ivan Sanchez, Jonathan Leko, Jordan Graham and Jeremie Bela.
Out of those options, Chong might have the most natural ability and there is a reason why he is on the books of Manchester United and has been handed first-team appearances for the Premier League giants. It will all come down to whether he has the character to go with the talent really.