Angel Gomes’ departure from Manchester United came as a big disappointment for many.
Gomes had been tipped as a star of the future for several seasons, having made his brief United debut back in 2017.
He sees a move elsewhere as necessary to further his career, and Manchester United will move on.
United’s academy is brimming with talent nowadays, as it should be, and players like Gomes come and go. As Ravel Morrison’s sad tale shows, ability alone offers no guarantees.
There is already a new golden boy rising through Manchester United’s ranks too, Hannibal Mejbri.
Fast track to the top
Mejbri arrived last summer as something of a peculiarity. Why were United agreeing to pay £9 million for a 16-year-old with no league appearances for Monaco?
Over the past year, supporters have begun to understand why United made that commitment.
Mejbri began the season in United’s under-18 side, and provided two assists in his first three games. His first goal soon followed.
United’s coaches sought to challenge him to step up right away. By September he was featuring for the under-23 side.
Mejbri provided three assists in his first four games for the under-23s, despite playing 90 minutes only once in this span.
It has become pretty clear that he is a special player, and he was a pivotal part of the under-18 side’s run to the FA Youth Cup semi-finals, which have yet to be played.
Mejbri’s passing range is what help set him apart. He has great vision and is capable of cutting through defences with long or short passes, sometimes creating opportunities from within his own half.
Nicky Butt recently told the MEN that Mejbri’s price tag and profile makes it difficult for the club to keep him under the radar, as United would prefer to do.
Mejbri is still a talent in development, but he is one who United fans are right to be excited about, especially if looking for a new golden boy to pin hopes on after Gomes’ sad departure.
But as the Gomes experience shows, there are no guarantees. Unless your name is Mason Greenwood.
There is a hope Mejbri is in the Greenwood category of talent. An elite player United just cannot hold back.
At just 17, Mejbri is progressing nicely, and it is possible United look to fast-track him next season.
He recently posted an Instagram video from his home gym showing he is trying to bulk up, no doubt to be more prepared for the physical rigours of first team football.
United were reported by the Evening Standard to be preparing a first team pathway for Jude Bellingham, 16, who now looks set for Borussia Dortmund.
Those opportunities may now get handed to Mejbri. If he can convince the coaches at Carrington that he is ready, then he has every chance.
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