Man United youngster Hannibal Mejbri is on loan at Birmingham this season and the club are considering recalling him.
At the end of January earlier this year, Hannibal Mejbri had played more matches for Tunisia than for Manchester United, as he started the season with an injury and represented his nation at the Arab Cup and Africa Cup of Nations when he returned to fitness.
Hannibal had the opportunity to take a holiday between the Arab Cup and AFCON, but instead chose to return to Manchester in order to train with the senior squad and catch the eye of Ralf Rangnick, who was impressed with what he saw in training.
The midfielder finally found his groove in England after the AFCON with Tunisia and he started in the majority of the Under-21s’ remaining Premier League matches, while he also made a cameo for the first team against Liverpool at Anfield.
Hannibal was only on the pitch for six minutes, but he impressed Gary Neville and Bryan Robson when receiving a yellow card for a strong challenge. Neville and Robson weren’t praising the foul but they were lauding the spirit that Hannibal showed.
United’s 4-0 defeat against Liverpool in April made it back-to-back humiliations against Jurgen Klopp’s side last season and there was an unforgivable lack of fight in that horror performance, which was made all the more embarrassing by an academy player displaying more desire in a six-minute cameo than most of the senior players had managed to show across the full 90 minutes.
Hannibal is not short of personality and he’s short of talent, either. United paid an initial €5m to sign then-16-year-old Hannibal from Monaco in 2019 and they beat Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich to his signature.
The 19-year-old was named United’s U21s Player of the Year in 2020/21 and, with the youngster not yet ready to challenge the first-team’s midfielders, Erik ten Hag gave the green light for him to be loaned to the Championship for this season.
Hannibal signed for Birmingham City, where Teden Mengi and Tahith Chong had played before him, on loan in late August and he’s become a key player at St. Andrews, making nine starts and making an appearance in every game since he signed.
His performances, which have seen him pick up four yellow cards, unsurprisingly, have endeared him to Birmingham supporters, who were disappointed to read United was considering recalling Hannibal in January to support the first team.
The Manchester Evening News revealed last month that Hannibal was one of those players that United have the option to recall next month if they wish, but the player has insisted he’s happy at Birmingham and that his loan is his focus.
“I didn’t play a lot in the World Cup so I was happy to come back here and get some minutes and show what I can do,” Hannibal told Birmingham Live. “For the rest of the season I want to go to the top six for the playoffs and I think that’s the objective for the club.
“I came here for the season. We [Man Utd] speak after every game – and for the moment nothing. I am enjoying playing for this club, I enjoy the fans, now we just need to work on the small details to be a better team.
“We are strong defensively and now we have to work on small details to be better offensively. My only objective at the moment with Birmingham is the top six, the rest will come after the holiday.”
The MEN revealed that although United are mindful of facilitating a player’s development, sources say the needs of the first team take precedence amid possible squad adjustments in the New Year, but it would be a mistake to recall Hannibal.
Ten Hag has Bruno Fernandes, Christian Eriksen, Casemiro, Fred, Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek as senior midfield options, while Zidane Iqbal is also part of the first-team squad and seems ready to make another competitive appearance.
There is no need to recall Hannibal, especially when the player is benefiting so much from playing at Birmingham. He’s playing consistently in the second division and the invaluable experience he’s gaining is accelerating his development.
It would be a mistake to recall Hannibal, who is hoping to break into United’s first team after a full season in the Championship.
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