Tahith Chong in Manchester United squad against Reading - who is the youngster?
Last Updated: 06/01/19 8:59am
Tahith Chong came off the bench for Manchester United in their FA Cup clash with Reading - but who is the 18-year-old talent?
Manchester United have always had a proud history of blooding young talent into the team, and since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took the reins at Old Trafford last month, the interim manager has featured fringe academy graduates in three of his four squads.
True to form, Chong was given his chance against Reading on Saturday, coming on as a second-half substitute, showing some nice touches in his late cameo, but 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 U18s in November that year 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.
Jose 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 U18s 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 there where he has really caught the eye, scoring four times in 12 appearances domestically, and netting another two goals in the UEFA Youth League.
He was then on the bench against Juventus in the Champions League, before finally donning the red shirt for the first time against Reading.
Mourinho touched upon his concerns over Chong's lightweight stature in pre-season, and the player sees to have taken heed of his manager's advice, gaining muscle since 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 U23s' 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 U23s 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."