Hannibal was the 23rd player in action during Manchester United’s first pre-season friendly against Derby.

The 18-year-old came off the bench for the final 12 minutes to replace Joe Hugill and help United see out a 2-1 win.

Hannibal had only returned to pre-season a couple of days earlier, after his Tunisia international exploits, which is why he featured so little.

He showed one dazzling piece of skill in which he left a Derby player floored, but his passing was inaccurate when he had a chance to make a decisive impact in the final third. That can be put down to rustiness. After a week of intense training on camp away with United, Hannibal should be back up to speed.

This weekend against QPR is a very big opportunity for Hannibal to show what he is capable of.

Manchester United Pre-Season Training Session
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Timing is everything

The timing of this weekend’s friendly away to QPR is critical for Hannibal after playing so few minutes in United’s opener.

The match at Loftus Road is United’s last friendly before a group of first team stars return to training.

 

Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek are all expected to return to United’s first team training group on Monday, and could play some part in the pre-season midweek match with Brentford days later.

Hannibal needs a strong showing against QPR to earn more minutes as pre-season goes on. What he may have shown behind the scenes in training camp over the past week will have an impact too, but the matches themselves are when he can really catch the eye.

Manchester United Pre-Season Training Session
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

As one of United’s top performers for the under-23s in 2020/21, Hannibal provided more assists (7) than any other player, and also chipped in with four goals.

He found himself rotated in various midfield and wide positions and often managed to have an impact. While Hannibal is developing, he is a very bright talent who is skilful and creative who has elements of Jack Grealish to his game.

Hannibal has been training with the first team since March and this pre-season is a big chance for him as the coaches plot his path for the year ahead. All options are on the table, including a loan move, and a mixture of under-23 and first team minutes.

International game time with Tunisia shows that Hannibal is ready for a challenge, and one way to get ahead is to demonstrate in pre-season what he is capable of. This Saturday is a chance for him to lay down a marker.

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