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Tahith Chong was in the Manchester United squad for Juventus clash - who is the youngster?
Last Updated: 23/10/18 10:40pm
Tahith Chong was in the Manchester United squad for their Champions League clash against Juventus - but who is the 18-year-old talent?
Manchester United have a long tradition of giving youth players a chance, with the latest protege being rewarded for fine recent form by being included in United's squad against Juventus on Tuesday night.
While he did not play in the 1-0 defeat, to be merely included on the bench, when United are not exactly desperately short of options through injury or suspension, represents a remarkable achievement for a 18-year-old from the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao.
Who is this rangy livewire who has burst his way into the United first-team fold? We take a look...
Career so far...
Chong arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 2016 a rather thin-looking winger, with what has become trademark, big hair.
However, his debut season was cut short by a serious knee injury he suffered in January 2017. After 10 months on the sidelines he returned for the Under-18s last November but didn't stay in Kieran McKenna's team for long, playing just seven times - and scoring four goals - before reserve coach Ricky Sbragia drafted him in.
Despite United's second-string being relegated last season, Chong impressed enough to earn a spot on United's pre-season tour and, alongside fellow youngsters Mason Greenwood and Angel Gomes, and turned a few heads.
Mourinho was especially impressed with Chong in the friendly against Club America, and even used Chong as a lone forward. His season culminated in winning the Under-18s Player of the Season award.
Chong only played a bit part for the remainder of the tour and started this season with the reserves slowly but it is the last month where Chong has really caught the eye.
His goal contribution record from his last three appearances against Middlesbrough, Valencia and Sunderland reads four goals and two assists, with his finishes very clinical in their nature. Should he take to the field against Juventus, his finishing prowess could make all the difference.
Mourinho touched upon his concerns over Chong's lightweight stature in pre-season, and Chong sees to have taken heed of his manager's advice, as the Netherlands Under-19s international seems to have gained muscle in recent months which has coincided with his impressive recent form.
Chong has a potent left foot - something not always commonplace in England - capable of a whipped cross or a ferocious strike.
Adept as a winger, wide forward - often coming in from the right - or, on occasion, as a central striker, Chong's long legs make him very dangerous to defenders on the counter attack, as he can power past them at will.
His aforementioned clinical finishing has recently come to the fore, with his goal against Valencia in Manchester United's Under-23s' last Champions League encounter providing further evidence.
What they said
Jose Mourinho: He was good. He came with the intention to show, and in a moment where we have no strikers on the pitch, Anthony Martial was the only one and then he left, so we needed people to create, have some initiative, which he did. The action for the cross for the goal is a beautiful action. He was enthusiastic, he was confident to play.
Of course physically he has his limitations, and when he has one more touch and he allows that body contact of course he loses it, but when he makes the ball move and attacks people one against one, he has quality. He's a good kid.
United coach Michael Carrick: "I look at the crop of good young lads here, real, real talent: Marcus [Rashford], Luke [Shaw], Jesse [Lingard], Anthony [Martial], Rom [Lukaku], Angel [Gomes], young Chong [Tahith Chong]. That's exciting for me to think I can try and help them."
United Under-23s coach Ricky Sbragia: "Chongy [Tahith Chong] gives us a little bit of extra pace in behind. I think for us, and for most teams, there is always the threat to have that burst of pace."