It is safe to say the lockdown came at a terrible time for Tahith Chong.
After a testing season in which he saw former under-23 teammate Mason Greenwood take steps to becoming a superstar, Chong has been a little left behind.
But trying to keep pace with Greenwood is an impossible task and Chong still has a chance to make it as a Manchester United player.
His final contribution before the lockdown was an assist for Greenwood against LASK, and it is likely he gets another run out in the home leg against the Austrians on August 5.
Frustrating few months
Chong was just beginning to build up a bit of steam prior to the lockdown, also providing an assist against Club Brugge.
Despite consistently training with United’s first team squad since the restart, Chong found himself overlooked by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The promising Dutchman did not make the bench for a single matchday squad, even for the rotated FA Cup quarter-final against Norwich.
Now he is likely to get a chance as United rotate for the second leg against LASK, with a 5-0 lead from the first match making the return a dead rubber. It is the perfect moment for Chong to come back into the team.
Loan in 2020/21?
While Tahith Chong has stepped forwards this past season, he will be a little underwhelmed with his game time.
This match against LASK is a moment for him to prove himself, and show Solskjaer he was wrong not to select him in recent Premier League and FA Cup matches.
Chong cannot show the nervousness which blighted his early Europa League group stage appearances. He needs to be clinical and creative.
The most likely pathway for Chong’s future is a loan move next season.
With just 34 minutes of Premier League action this past year over three substitute appearances, that would be sensible and smart for Chong’s development, especially considering United are likely to sign a winger this summer.
A two-goal showing at Old Trafford against LASK could change plans. United will still sign a winger, but there could become a concerted effort to get Chong more involved and keep him around next season.
Chong can’t look too far ahead, but a strong performance next week will open doors which currently appear closed.
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