When Manchester United signed Hannibal Mejbri from AS Monaco in the summer of 2019, they clearly knew what type of player they were getting at the Old Trafford club. During his first season at the club, in 19 appearances he scored one goal and six assists, which was a good output from a player adapting to English football. This season, in 25 appearances, he scored five goals and ten assists – also ending the season as the Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year award, previously won by James Garner, Tahith Chong, Demi Mitchell and Axel Tuanzebe, amongst others. It shows that progress is being made at U23 level, which is where he has played the majority of his football this season.
At just 18 years old, Hannibal, as he likes to be called, has a great career ahead of him. Coming from the greater Paris area originally, the same area as Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe played as youths, he is from great stock amongst those names and will be determined to carve himself a career similar to his compatriots. At United, he must know he has that opportunity, rising from U18 football to U23 football and could feature for the first team in the final Premier League match of the season away to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday afternoon. Hannibal ended his season with a red card in the 3-1 defeat to Derby County a few weeks back, something which he will have found lots of frustration with.
During the course of the 2020/21 season, Hannibal has been targeted by his opposition and seems to have received lots of kicks to his body, hair pulling and other things to make him react. It just goes to show that he is a player with skills much higher than his opposition if that is the only way they can try to thwart him from creating something or scoring a goal. His peers will know how good his is too, praising his ability and relying on him to create something from nothing. Hannibal himself knows what he is capable of and will be working to show that every opportunity he gets. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Hannibal, speaking about the course of the season and how thankful he was, said:
“It’s a very proud moment for me and my family. I will say thank you to the coaches, to my team-mates and everyone who helped me. Thank you very much.
“I think the Under-23s league was good, we did well with a young team and I think we all learned some things. The coach helped us a lot, with our technical [play] and how we need to work.
“For me, personally, it was good. I learned a lot. I had to be stronger. I was more consistent in the games and I had more goals and assists than the season before. It’s always good to take that step, so it was good.”
United are starting to enter an exciting period for the club, the players and the supporters. Over the past two full seasons, Solskjaer has guided his players to a third placed finish in his first full season then a second-placed finish in his second full season. United reached the UEFA Champions League Carabao Cup semi-final, FA Cup semi-final and UEFA Europa League semi-final in the 2019/20 season, also reaching the Carabao Cup semi-final this season and ended the semi-final hoodoo by reaching the UEFA Europa League final this season. Solskjaer has also given many academy players their full debuts and that is expected to continue as United face their final Premier League match of the season, away to Wolves.
This gives Hannibal a great chance to show what he can do for the first team, which may result in him being tested more often next season, which could be where he starts to break into the squad. Of course, the Frenchman has been training with the first team already this season, so it will only be a matter of time before the manager feels the player is able to step up and make himself counted. Hannibal is an exciting prospect and can produce for his club, as he has shown this season with his five goals and ten assists. He obviously has a lot of ground to cover to become Premier League quality but with all the ingredients there, he could be a player for United that will start to fill the void on his road to success at the Theatre of Dreams.
Written by Dave Preston