Manchester United prospect Hannibal Mejbri has chosen to play his international football for Tunisia.

He has been called into manager Mondher Kebaier’s 29-man squad for next month’s matches against DR Congo, Algeria and Mali.

Here’s all you need to know about the youngster’s decision…

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester United - Premier League
(Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Why has Hannibal chosen to play for Tunisia?

According to United’s official website, Mejbri has spent time in Tunisia throughout his life.

That’s despite being born in France, in Ivry-sur-Seine and attending famous French football academy Clairefontaine.

As per the Standard, Hannibal’s father Lotfi played as a professional in Tunisia.

How is Hannibal eligible to play for Tunisia?

Both Lotfi and Hannibal’s mother are Tunisian. That means he is able to declare to play for them at international level.

Players are also allowed to declare for a country their grandmother or grandfather was born in or where they’ve lived continuously for at least five years after reaching the age of 18.

Competition from the France squad

Mejbri could of course have declared for France, having represented them at Under 16 and Under 17 level.

But he would have faced a huge amount of competition for places, not least from United teammate Paul Pogba.

Didier Deschamps has a huge amount of talent available to him, and the likes of Eduardo Camavinga coming through the ranks means the future is bright too.

 

Mejbri has the talent to force his way in but in the years to come, he can become something of a talisman for Tunisia if he continues to progress.

Hannibal Mejbri is Awarded the Denzil Haroun Award for Manchester United Reserve Team Player of the Year
(Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

When is the next AFCON?

Mejbri’s decision of course means he’ll be eligible to take part in the African Cup of Nations.

The next AFCON will take place in Cameroon between 9 January and 6 February 2022.

Tunisia have already qualified and will discover their group stage opponents when the draw is made on 25 June.

That poses a potential issue for United. Mejbri will be missing for a month of the season.

That’s less than ideal but if his progression has been so good that he’s a key part of the squad by then, he’ll have done well.

Where are Tunisia in the world rankings?

As of May 28, Tunisia are 26th in the world rankings.

They ran England close at the 2018 World Cup, only losing 2-1 late on and will expect to be among the favourites at the next AFCON.

Having a talented playmaker like Mejbri in their ranks will only boost them further.

Will he need a work permit to play for United?

No, because he has French citizenship, which means he will still not be seen as a non-EU player.

The decision also should not impact his homegrown status, which can be awarded to any player who has spent spent three years between the ages of 16 and 21 with a team in the English league system.

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