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Manchester United have plans for Hannibal Mejbri but not in the first team just yet

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

Hannibal Mejbri has talent and could make the rise like Mason Greenwood

It would be fair to say that 18-year-old Mason Greenwood is a generational talent at Manchester United after his meteoric rise to the first team and the fact he has made 48 appearances for the club so far this season, scoring 16 goals and assisting five more. He has played 2,329 minutes of football so far this season, with three more matches of the domestic season left to play before the UEFA Europa League commences – he is one exciting prospect at the club; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is pleased.

That said, Greenwood is not the only exciting player at the Old Trafford club, especially in the youth ranks. Last summer, United signed 16-year-old Hannibal Mejbri, now 17, who had a good season, despite youth football ending back in March because of the coronavirus pandemic which suspended world football, cancelling many leagues in Europe. The French teenager is highly rated and his transfer was kept under wraps last summer, as much as it could have been anyway.

His departure will be rued by AS Monaco, who seem to have lost a player who could be a generational talent. Mejbri has made 20 appearances for United at U18 and U23 level this season, starting 15 times and coming off the bench five times, scoring one goal, assisting five more. Granted, he may have a lot more to do in order to make his meteoric rise to the first team but Solskjaer will be watching his progress closely as he looks at add more creativity, drive, determination and flair into the midfield.

There were many reports in the media about Mejbri’s prospective (at the time) move to United but they kept it as quiet as they could with rumours coming out close to the time the player arrived at the club. Nicky Butt, who at the times was the head of the clubs academy, now the head of first team development, responsible for academy players making the rise into the first team, just like he did from the Class of 1992 all those years ago. Mejbri, if he keeps in the right track, will end up doing the same. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News back in February, Butt, speaking about Mejbri, said:

“Hannibal [Mejbri]’s a leader. The way he plays his football is 100mph, he’s non-stop running up and down.

“He’s got his own path. We make sure when we sign players we always speak to the parents and give them an example of all different ways of getting into Manchester United’s first-team.

“Hannibal is different to Paul [Pogba] when Paul was a youth team player. He’s not as powerful as Paul, he isn’t as dominant as him, he’s a different kind of player to Paul but we all know about the talent he’s got. It’s been written out there in the press many times with the signing and the fee.

“But he’s a young man who’s come to a new country who needs a bit of time. He’s a very, very talented boy but he’s still very immature. He’s still a baby, he’s just 17.

“He’s not got anything on him just yet, he needs to build up his size and build up his physicality. Talent-wise, he’s got such an immense talent to go on and play at a high level but there’s a long way to go yet.”

United paid £9.3 million for Mejbri last summer, which was reported by The Sun, also in February, which might be a lot of money for an unproven teenager, but it just shows how valued he was by Monaco, despite the fallout between him and the club which has been catalogued in multiple places since, even written about by this website (which you can read here). If the player continues on his rise to stardom, which is something he can do at United, he is going to be a massive talent.

At the time United signed the player, there was a lot of hype surrounding him, which is something that Butt wanted to shield him from, protecting the player in his tender years so it did not affect him at a later stage. This does not seem to be the case though, the player did not even rise to abuse from Leeds United supporters when United beat them in the FA Youth Cup earlier this season. t could show his character, which will help him succeed in the future. As reported by The Sun, Butt spoke about signing Mejbri, saying:

“It’s hard to get him under the radar when we’ve chased him for so long and he’s come from a big club for a big fee, so that’s impossible.

“But you want to get young people under the radar because, coming from a different country and getting the price tag in your head and coming to one of the biggest clubs in the world, there’s going to be so much pressure in the first place.

“I’ve got a 16-year-old kid who, I would hate that pressure on their shoulders…

“But they have that and it’d be foolish to put them out there too soon, because you don’t know what’s around the corner. They’re children.”

It shows that the protection is there from the club, especially Butt who knows that it is like to come through the academy and on the cusp of first team football, presumably why he’s in the role of helping players develop between youth and senior football now, looking out for the player and th rigours of what is to come. Could Mejbri be a shock promotion to the first team this summer for Solskjaer? Could he be involved in the UEFA Europa League this season? Who knows? One thing is for sure, the more you hear about Hannibal Mejbri now, will make you thirstier to see that the player can do in the near future. Can he rise like Greenwood did? He has the talent, in time you will see.

Written by John Walker

Mason Greenwood is one of the best players Nicky Butt has ever worked with – he’s going to be a star

Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood is one of the best that Nicky Butt has ever worked with, according to Jamie Redknapp. The academy graduate, 18, has impressed massively in his first season as a first team player, making 38 appearances, scoring 12 goals and four assists in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side this season.

Butt used to be the head of the clubs academy but during last summer, he moved within the club and is now the head of first team development, acting as the official at the club that will guide other academy graduates into the first team, similar to what happened at the club during Sir Alex Ferguson’s near 27-year reign of the club.

Butt is probably one of the best candidates for this role at the club, overseeing the academy for a number of years, now using his experience, as he came through the academy as a member of the Class of 1992, who achieved so much at United, including winning the treble at the club during the 1998/99 season.

Butt came through the same academy group as Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, and Phil Neville, not to mention Ryan Giggs, who was already a first team regular when the other five broke through. Butt though suggests that Greenwood is the best talent he has ever worked with. Jamie Redknapp confirmed the following:

“I remember talking to Nicky Butt about eight months ago. He said Mason Greenwood was the best young player he’s ever seen at Manchester United.

“That is some statement considering all the players they’ve produced, like the Class of 92. There’s nothing he can’t achieve with his pace and power.”

Greenwood seems to have gone so far in a short period of time and during the lockdown cause by the coronavirus pandemic, the player has developed into an athlete, showing that he is taking everything seriously. Granted, it might take some time to adapt a bit more and start showing the player he is at the highest level in club football.

Butt is not the only former United player that highly rates Greenwood. Former right-back and captain Gary Neville feels that Greenwood was the best rising star at the club. The 18-year-old reminds me of Marcus Rashford based on his rise from the academy into the first time to becoming one of the best players that the club. Neville, when asked who he believed was the rising star at United, said:

“I would say Mason Greenwood. He can be anything he wants to be. He just looks like he’s got such great composure and quality. He’s great physically as well.

“If he continues to emerge like he’s shown at times this season I think Manchester United have got the real deal there.”

Solskjaer is happy with Greenwood too, especially after returning to the club after the lockdown with the club initially returning to training packed with muscle. With the Premier League run-in already commenced and United returning to Emirates FA Cup action this weekend against Norwich City. Solskjaer, speaking about Greenwood, said:

“Mason is a young boy. He’s still 18 and this lockdown period has done him all the good in the world. At his age, they do develop and fill out and Mason’s looking more and more like a man, so definitely it will help him.

“Sometimes early on you could see he was a kid. Now in training he can use his strength better and he has done really well over the three or four weeks we have been training now.

“And his quality in front of goal has always been there and now he has muscle to push defenders away. I am not sure it was deliberate but the fitness coaches have worked really well with him.

“He has got the rest and recovery period after for him what must have been an intense first full season with the first team. He is looking good.”

copyright: JW