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Hannibal Mejbri can be the spark Manchester United need at the end of a miserable season


Fred’s injury in Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat to Everton has left fans wondering who interim manager Ralf Rangnick will partner with Nemanja Matic in the heart of midfield. At Goodison Park, Paul Pogba and Hannibal Mejbri were the only midfielders on the bench who have played a deeper role in the past, with Scott McTominay injured and Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata seen as more advanced options.

Given Pogba’s inconsistency this season, Rangnick may not trust the Frenchman, and so he could turn to youngster Hannibal to solve United’s midfield woes. This season, Hannibal has featured on the bench for United’s first team on five occasions, once in the Champions League, once in the FA Cup and three times in the Premier League.

But the midfielder is still yet to play a minute of football for Rangnick’s side this season. The 19-year-old Tunisian regularly starts for United’s Under-23s alongside fellow highly-rated teenager Alejandro Garnacho.

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For the Under- 23s, Hannibal has made 11 appearances in all competitions this season, scoring one goal and assisting three. The small number of appearances can be accounted for by the fact he has been called up to his national team on many occasions this term, namely when he represented Tunisia at the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

Rangnick clearly sees potential in Hannibal, and the 19-year-old’s record from last season justifies the midfielder’s inclusion in United’s first-team squad. Hannibal capped off an impressive year with a Premier League debut in the final match of last season, coming on as a substitute for the final eight minutes of United’s 2-1 win away to Wolves.

Having never featured in United’s first-team squad until that point, the midfielder was rewarded for his exploits with the Under-23s in the Premier League 2. Hannibal recorded five goals and 10 assists for the Under-23s in all competitions last season, starting all but one of the matches when he was involved in the squad.

While he is by no means a goalscoring midfielder, Hannibal’s creativity could be a valuable asset for Rangnick’s side if he is given an opportunity to impress in the season run-in. At Everton on Saturday, Bruno Fernandes created the most chances for his teammates in 90 minutes, with a meagre tally of two.

Despite Pogba replacing Fred in the first half after the Brazilian limped off injured, the Frenchman did not have the desired impact. Cristiano Ronaldo had only two shots against the Merseysiders, as the Portuguese striker was starved of service.

When you compare that to his tally of eight shots in his previous Premier League match against Tottenham, in which he scored a hat-trick, it is clear to see where United’s struggles lie. The squad has the talent up front to finish chances, but they first need to be created. Hannibal may well provide a sorely needed spark in midfield if given the opportunity.



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