Hannibal Mejbri began 2021 well even though he was on the losing side for Manchester United’s under-23 team.
The young Frenchman is just 17-year-old and is still proving to be a regular provider at this level.
Mejbri set up United’s first goal in a 4-2 away defeat at Leicester. He set free a lightning quick counter-attack, playing in Anthony Elanga in space before the speedy winger took the ball on and fired it into the bottom corner.
United defended poorly and had conceded two goals in the first 10 minutes, before Mejbri hauled the team back into the game.
Mejbri, playing in the number 10 position, received the ball around the halfway line with his back to goal, before turning and passing the ball into Elanga.
He picked up a booking later in the first half, but kept his discipline during the rest of the game. This has not always been his strong point, as he is often on the wrong end of some heavy tackles and it was no different against Leicester. Mejbri was able to keep his frustration in check.
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Mejbri now has six assists at under-23 level this season. This is more than any other United player.
To emphasise this, Mejbri now has twice as many as his nearest teammate. Anthony Elanga has three assists, with three players on two.
It is again worth pointing out Mejbri is still only 17. For a few days at least. He turns 18 later this week. The point still stands; the young Frenchman is excelling at a level above his age group for an inconsistent team.
This is all good experience. Mejbri would be finding it easier had the under-23s not won promotion into the PL2 top flight last season. But at Manchester United, challenges are what it is all about.
Mejbri is far from the finished product and a first team chance is not near just yet. If he can keep up this type of form, his prospects may improve in a year’s time.
United have Mejbri under contract until 2024, and there is no reason to rush him. He is developing very well and these games are all part of the learning curve.
It is just a positive that even in a defeat, Mejbri still finds a way to positively influence the game. United’s under-23 side would find it a lot tougher without him.
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