United youngster Hannibal was subject of several Championship loan enquiries
Manchester United academy star Hannibal Mejbri maybe currently representing Tunisia at the AFCON, but the midfielder could well have been plying his trade in the Championship this season.
The 18-year-old played for his nation in last month’s Arab Cup final before being named in the African Cup of Nations squad, which started earlier this month, following his impressive performances which brought two man of the match awards.
The talented youngster started Tunisia’s controversial opening 1-0 defeat against Mali, but was brought off at half-time.
He was an unused substitute in yesterday’s 4-0 win against Mauritania, but will be targeting a recall in Thursday’s clash against Gambia.
However, according to GOAL, a number of Championship clubs, including Reading, enquired about taking the teenager on a season-long loan for the 2021-22 campaign, following his eye-catching displays for United’s under-23 side.
But the Tunisian’s international commitments this season made him a “less attractive” proposition for interested parties.
The former Monaco man was “desperate” to represent his parents’ homeland at both at the Arab Cup and the AFCON, and United directors John Murtough and Darren Fletcher both agreed that Hannibal would benefit from playing tournament football with Tunisia.
The midfielder has already caught the eye of United’s interim boss Ralf Rangnick, and instead of taking a holiday between his participation in the two international tournaments, he instead opted to return to Manchester and take part in first team training sessions at Carrington.
The German coach has already labelled Hannibal a “highly-talented” player, and United’s plan once he returns from Cameroon is to continue training with the first team, whilst getting game time with Neil Wood’s under-23s.
A loan move and exposure to regular first team football at senior level may aid Hannibal’s development, but United are “unlikely” to let him leave before the close of the January transfer window.
Also, as Anthony Elanga has proven, if United’s talented academy stars impress in training, remain patient and grasp their opportunity when it comes, there is a chance of forcing your way into the first team picture.
Hannibal’s chances of impressing Rangnick have been disrupted by his international commitments, but once his participation at the AFCON finishes, he will have a clear run at impressing the 63-year-old.
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