Birmingham City manager Lee Bowyer has insisted that Tahith Chong has both the ability and the desire to make it to the very top of the game following his impact in the Blues’ 2-0 win over Derby County.
Chong has been a heavily influential performer for the Blues in the Championship so far this season. That comes with him exciting Birmingham supporters and dazzling defenders in the English second tier.
Against Derby, Chong was once again a major driving force for most of Birmingham’s dangerous attacking moments. The 21-year-old was able to make one key pass and deliver three crosses for Bowyer’s side, and he was also constantly driving at Derby’s backline to try and make things happen.
While Chong was also able to demonstrate his real defensive work rate with him getting back several times at speed to help protect the Blues’ defence.
In total, he managed to make two tackles and win eight duels as he showed there is more to his game than just exciting moments of attacking flair.
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Speaking to Birmingham Live following the Blues’ win against Derby on Friday, Bowyer insisted that he was impressed with the defensive work rate from Chong against the Rams.
He also suggested that Manchester United have done excellent work with his development and believes he has the attributes to make it to the very top of the game.
He said: “Everyone will talk about him in possession and the way he glides past people it is beautiful to watch.
“But I look at the other side and he works so hard for the team. To come from Manchester United and to have the attitude he has, and work the way he works, he is a credit to their football club.
“I have told them that already, to produce someone with that talent who works that hard for the team.
“There are other players that have talent, but they are luxury players. He ran 60 yards, sprinted past someone to catch up – I like that more. If you have that talent and still do that, you have every chance of making it at the top.”
When Birmingham managed to agree a deal with Manchester United in the summer to take Chong on a season-long loan there was hope that he could fulfil his potential with the Blues. From what has been seen so far this term that is certainly proving to be the case.
Bowyer has managed to find the right way to motivate the 21-year-old and Chong has thoroughly bought into everything that the Birmingham boss is wanting to build at St Andrews.
It is clear that Chong is prepared to work as hard as anyone else in the side and that will only serve to make him a vital cog in the machine that Bowyer is creating.
It is that work off the ball that enables him to drive at defences and make things happen when the Blues win back possession.
Manchester United would have been hoping that Chong could show signs that he could be getting towards the levels needed to try and compete for a place in their side next term.
Given the attacking talents that Manchester United have, Chong faces an uphill battle to make it into their side when he returns to Old Trafford.
However, Bowyer is right that the 21-year-old has all the ingredients that you would need to become a top player. If he continues as he is at the moment then maybe he can force his way into Man United’s long-term plans.