The Manchester United academy star’s name that is on everyone’s lips this season is Hannibal Mejbri.
The French starlet joined the Red Devils from Monaco in August for a fee in the region of £9.2 million – an eye-watering figure for a 16-year-old who had not played a single senior game for the French side.
United were among a host of clubs including Liverpool, Manchester City, PSG and Barcelona who were chasing the youngster’s signature, but according to The Mirror, ‘United invited him to their Carrington training ground in a bid to woo him and his family’ – the same trick they recently tried with Birmingham City’s Jude Bellingham – ‘with the teen deciding on the switch to Old Trafford shortly afterwards.’
And Mejbri’s performances since joining the Red Devils have more than vindicated the club’s faith in him already.
The now 17-year-old made his debut for a struggling Under-18s side in September and his standout performances quickly earned him a call-up to the Under-23s. He provided two assists for the reserves in his first three appearances from the bench, earning him his first start against Newcastle on 1st October, in which he provided another assist.
He has also continued to play for the Under 18’s, notching his first goal in the 2-1 defeat of Manchester City, and in every round of United’s romp into the FA Youth Cup semi finals.
Mejbri’s former Paris FC coach Reda Bekhti recently spoke to Goal about his former charge, saying:
‘I believe he has what it takes to make it to the first team, I think he is on the right path.’
‘Hannibal was a very good player and a very mature boy from a young age. From the beginning of his time at Paris FC, we admired his football qualities. He had personality and effectiveness.’
‘He was always smiling, very polite and very well-mannered. He was a player who was eager to learn and very demanding.’
‘His football strengths are mainly based on his ability to see things before others. On a football field he has intelligence far above the average.’
‘In addition to this, he has a lot of technical ability and is a modern midfielder who is capable of combining excellent recovery of the ball, fast transitioning and the ability to finish.’
You only have to see Mejbri in action for a few minutes to see why everyone is so excited. Comparisons with a young Ruud Gullit would not be out of order. Mejbri is composed on the ball and likes to drive forward with the ball at his feet. He has incredible technique and vision and an extraordinary passing range.
Watch an anthology of Mejbri in action in the video above.
The natural progression for the French youth international would normally be to join the senior side on their next pre-season tour, but the coronavirus crisis has put paid to the possibility of such a tour taking place this year.
We will probably therefore need to wait until next season’s Carabao Cup fixtures to have a chance of seeing what the starlet can do at first team level. A loan deal to a Championship level side is also a possibility.
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