Manchester United supporters are split on what the club should do with promising talent Hannibal Mejbri this season.
Creative midfielder Hannibal arrived in a £10million move from Monaco last summer. He soon impressed for the Under-18s and now features regularly for Neil Wood’s Under-23s side.
The teenager made 18 appearances in his first campaign at United as the club were keen to not press him too hard as he adapted to life in a new country and it seems to have worked as he played superbly as United youngsters beat League Two side Salford City 6-0 in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday.
It was the first time Hannibal had come up against senior opposition and it was the Frenchman who got the deluge underway in the first half.
He showed lightning quick feet under pressure from multiple challenges to shift the ball into space before rifling a shot into the top corner from just inside the penalty area.
It was a fine strike that was only the start of Hannibal’s performance as he also went on to claim two assists. The first put United three up and out of sight just after half-time, as he sent a wicked cross into the box from a free-kick that was then headed in by Mark Helm.
His second assist came at the end of a hectic five-minute period in which United scored three times, playing an inch perfect through ball for Anthony Elanga to run through and score.
It rounded off a remarkable performance from Hannibal who, despite only being 17, is earning calls from some supporters to be promoted to the first team.
Manager Wood was quick to downplay those cries after the game, however, and claimed that Hannibal still has a lot of developing to do.
“As much as he’s a good player there’s still a long way to go with Hannibal, he’s still got a lot of learning to do, a lot of improving,” said Wood. “You can see the good bits of his play, he’s got great feet, he’s got great vision, he’s tenacious, but there’s still work to be done with him.
“I wouldn’t get carried away and say he’s going to be in the first team, but he’s willing to work, he’s willing to improve, he’s got a very good understanding of the game and a very good understanding of what he needs to get better at as well.”
Wood expects Hannibal to remain with his U23 side for the coming season but fans are undecided on what he should do.
MEN Sport asked supporters: “Following his great performance against Salford City, what do you want to see Hannibal Mejbri do this season?”
The narrow winner with 38 per cent of the 3,138 votes was for him to be promoted to the first-team squad.
Thirty-five per cent of fans voted in favour of him leaving on loan, believing that gaining first-team experience at a lower level could help fast track his development.
Finally, 27 per cent of fans believe that the United academy is the best place for Hannibal to grow as a player and want him to stay with the U23s this year.