Manchester United U23 manager Neil Wood has confirmed that the club has plans for French midfielder Hannibal Mejbri after signing the player a year ago from principality club AS Monaco. The player will remain part of the clubs youth set up rather than be promoted to the first team. The 17-year-old impressed during his first season at the club, which was cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic. The player made 20 appearances for the U18s and U23s, scoring one goal and five assists.
The French midfielder arrived at United in what seemed like a high-profile transfer last summer with United paying £9.3 million, if all clauses in the contract are met. It is fair to say that the player has considerable talent and Monaco will have been upset to let the player leave the club. In the future he could become one of the best players in the world providing he keeps his development heading in the right direction. United would not have spent what they had on the player if they did not see his potential.
15 of Mejbri’s appearances (14 starts and one substitute appearance) came ay U18 level last season with five appearances (one start and four substitute appearances) at U23 level. It would seem that the French midfielder will be playing amongst the U23s this season after they gained promotion to the top-flight of the Premier League 2 this season after the league was suspended and promptly cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. He will probably feature in the UEFA Youth League with United back in the UEFA Champions League.
The Manchester Evening News has spoken to Neil Wood, the U23 manager about the Frenchman, seemingly looking to find out whether he will be promoted to the first team anytime soon. However, it was revealed that the club have plans for the player and they will not be making any quick decisions on the progress of the player, which could cause problems if he was promoted too early. It would seem that some see the player’s price tag and assume he’s a first team player. Wood said:
“I think what you need to remember is Hannibal is still a young lad, he is only 17. He’s not long been here really, he is probably coming up to almost a first completed season if that.
“I think people get sucked into the price-tag, and again that is not Hannibal’s fault. So I think he is a young player with potential, he is one of the young players we have got with potential, but there is still a lot of development and learning which needs to be put into him.
“We still need to get him to a higher level to get him to even go and train with the first-team, so there is no rush to start pushing him in that first-team environment right now.
“I think the challenge is going to be enough for him at U23s right now and we are going to push him and try to move him up as quick as we can, but at the same time we won’t rush him if he’s not ready to do that.”
It is good to see the club tread carefully with a player who could well be a world star in a few years time. The player will be happy to play football at U23 level, which will be good for him along with the inclusion in the UEFA Youth League, which will see the club come up against other teams who have qualified for the UEFA Champions League next season. When United see progress with the player, he may be given chances at first team level. He will be enthused to see that Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood have progressed into the first team during the 2019/20 season and should see that if he impresses the world could be his oyster.
Written by John Walker