Hannibal Mejbri’s quest to break into the Manchester United first team could be through a deeper role than first envisaged due to his impressive physical qualities.
The Athletic understands the Tunisian international has impressed those within the academy with his physicality, with Hannibal believed to have the stamina and resilience to play in central midfield at a high level.
Highlighting his toughness, it is believed Hannibal played a large section of the EFL Trophy game last month against Lincoln City with a broken nose, but elected to play on with splints inserted rather than be substituted following his injury.
He is a player developing mentally, technically and physically at an impressive rate according to The Athletic.
Can Hannibal break into the United first team?
Central midfield is a hotly contested position in the Manchester United side, but so is the forward positions.
Hannibal is competing against Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, Fred and Donny van de Beek.
Plus the likes of James Garner, Dylan Levitt and Ethan Galbraith as well as Andreas Pereira all left the club on loan this summer to secure first team football.
If the 18-year-old wanted to play in the attacking midfielder role he would be coming up against Bruno Fernandes, Jesse Lingard and van de Beek.
It is expected that United are going to focus on signing a defensive midfielder next summer and if Pogba commits his future to the club, the competition for places is only going to intensify.
In order for Hannibal to stake his central midfield claim, a year out on loan at a Championship side would continue his development and enable him to play first team football week in, week out.
How has he performed in the role this season?
Hannibal had lined up in central midfield in the EFL Trophy clash against Lincoln.
United lost the game 3-2, but Hannibal produced a performance that highlighted that he is ready for first team football.
It was a performance of a confident young player, only 18, bossing a midfield against senior players.
Whilst it would be great to see him get opportunities in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, it’s hard to see where the chances are going to come from.
The youngster may feature against West Ham United in the Carabao Cup, but beyond that Solskjaer will likely stick with his more senior players.
There is no denying that the teenager has a future at Old Trafford, but it seems he is caught between outgrowing academy football and knocking on the first team door.
The club may review Hannibal’s situation in January and send him out on loan on the proviso he gets played in central midfield where the United academy staff feel he could have a great career.
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