Having joined Manchester United’s academy from Monaco in 2019, Hannibal Mejbri has come on leaps and bounds with the club.
The 18-year-old joined for a cool £9m, but he has already set about repaying that substantial fee with the Red Devils’ Under-23s.
The French teenager has played regularly, contributing plenty of goals and assists – including a lovely team goal against Blackburn.
⚽ Slick build-up play led to this well-taken goal by Hannibal earlier in tonight's #MUAcademy game…
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 5, 2021
Tracked since he was 9 years old
All this attention won’t have come as a real surprise to Hannibal, who has been in the limelight ever since he was nine years old. Nine.
Speaking to AFP (via RTL), his father, Lofti, confessed that agents and scouts have been chasing his son for years, insisting that he always fought off their advances to try and protect him.
Thanks to that guidance, Hannibal has managed to grow on his own, and it led him to the doors of Old Trafford.
2. His dad wanted him to become a doctor
Following his transfer to Manchester United, AS Monaco would like to wish Hannibal Mejbri all the best in his future career. pic.twitter.com/jzwDwIt0Jw
— AS Monaco EN (@AS_Monaco_EN) August 11, 2019
Hannibal’s father has always been very involved in his career, in an attempt to prove to his son that there is life outside of football.
Lotfi told Le Parisien that studies were always more important for the young midfielder, who could have gone on to become a doctor or a lawyer if football didn’t work out for him.
Intelligence has always been a key part of Hannibal’s life, and that is clear in the way he plays.
3. Passing is his forte
Hannibal loves to use his mind to play football. As a creative midfielder, passing is his forte, and he boasts vision far beyond his years.
Regarded as a real technician, he is a regular set-piece taker for his side and he is often capable of picking out a pass which most players around him can’t see. His decision-making is excellent, and he rarely gets flustered in possession.
Hannibal fits into the mould of a modern creative midfielder – someone who loves dropping deep to pick up the ball, before turning and moving his side up the field.
4. Not known for his defending
Unfortunately, Hannibal’s desire to drop deep can often prove detrimental to his side. He often gets exposed on the defensive side of things.
He isn’t exactly blessed with the best physicality and can get bullied quite easily by bigger attackers – something which he could certainly struggle with in the Premier League.
His teammates can leave the creating to him, but they will need to support him massively when he is asked to defend.
5. He once snubbed a big-money move to Liverpool
United fans love seeing their club pick up an exciting youngster, but they love it even more when said youngster snubs moves to some of their direct rivals.
Back with Hannibal’s father again, he told Le Parisien that they have already rejected a huge offer to move to Liverpool, while Manchester City and Arsenal have both failed in bids for the young midfielder.
He added that the Gunners even took him on trial, but they ultimately decided against pursuing a move – could they live to regret that?
6. Youth international
Hannibal has represented France at Under-16 and Under-17 level, with 15 youth caps to his name already.
It is surely only a matter of time before thee Under-18s and Under-21s come calling.
7. United want to protect him
Manchester United Under-23s boss Neil Wood has called for greater protection for Hannibal from referees, with the youngster often being kicked off the park.
Wood revealed to the MEN Hannibal had played with a broken nose earlier this season, and fears he could suffer a more serious injury.
“I think Hannibal has lots of quality and the frustrating point for him is that there must be about 15 fouls on him per game,” he said.
“And at some point if it’s not stopped, or if the referee is not protecting him, he’s going to get his leg broken. That’s what I fear for him.”
8. Fellow French wonderkid convinced him to move
United have been busy snapping up some of Europe’s best young talents in recent times, such as their acquisition of Frenchman Noam Emeran in February 2019. He may have not made an impact at Old Trafford just yet, but he has been putting in work behind the scenes.
After signing for United, Hannibal spoke to Le Parisien about why opted to make the move to Old Trafford, and he was quick to credit Emeran for speaking so highly of the club.
The pair certainly appear to have a close bond, and fans will be hoping to see them play a big part in United’s future.