Manchester United midfielder Hannibal Mejbri is improving by the week. Training alongside first-team superstars, the 18-year-old will be desperate for a chance. And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a big decision next week.
United could make changes for the Carabao Cup clash on Wednesday, and it will be interesting to see if Hannibal features then or 24 hours earlier in the EFL Trophy.
He could play both, starting the U21 clash before making the bench against West Ham. But United fans will be desperate to see him get more minutes for the senior side.
Hannibal’s situation is interesting. He is the same age as Jude Bellingham and Eduardo Camavinga yet he has featured just once for United thus far.
Both those players were tipped to join United before moving elsewhere. And Bellingham in particular feels like the one that got away.
Camavinga’s preference was always believed to be La Liga. And so it proved. But if United were willing to throw either him or Bellingham into the first-team fold, Solskjaer should be bolder with Hannibal.
United spent big on the French-born midfielder back in 2019. Paying millions for a 16-year-old shows how highly the Red Devils rated him, and he has blossomed since.
Excelling at U18 level and now quickly outgrowing the U23s, Hannibal has an interesting campaign ahead of him.
Given United’s struggles in the centre of the park, the recent Tunisia international will see a path in. Nemanja Matic is fading fast, Fred continues to struggle and James Garner’s latest loan spell is faltering.
As a result, Hannibal could be a regular in 2022 and beyond.
Hannibal can fly with faith
If you are good enough, you are old enough certainly applies to Camavinga and Bellingham. Chances were taken on their talent and they replied with interest.
United may be disappointed to have missed out on the pair, but they have their own star in the making.
It has been suggested in some quarters that United opted for Hannibal rather than a 16-year-old Camavinga. Now Solskjaer needs to be bold…and potentially save a huge sum in the process.
The Carabao Cup clash is an ideal chance for the youngster to impress. But how bold will his manager be? Does he play him in an U21 competition where he will learn nothing? Or does he take a risk that could pay rich dividends?
Eight minutes on the final day of last season was a tantalising glimpse of United’s latest midfield sensation. Now he deserves much more.