Manchester United’s slim options in midfield this weekend against Norwich could lead to an opportunity for 19-year-old Hannibal Mejbri, who has been confirmed in the squad for the encounter by the MEN.
Both Scott McTominay and Fred will miss the match through injury, with three other first-team players also unavailable for selection.
This leaves Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic as the only options to start in the midfield pivot for Ralf Rangnick.
The former is very likely to be leaving the club when his contract expires at the end of the season, and the latter has announced that he will be ending his time with United once the campaign finishes.
With the fact that Matic’s levels usually decrease as the game enters the late stages of the game, Norwich’s travel to Old Trafford could be the perfect opportunity for Hannibal to be given a chance.
Alejandro Garnacho has also been gifted a spot in the squad for the match due to his impressive form for the youth sides, but it is Hannibal who is the more prepared for a first team cameo.
The Tunisian midfielder made his first-team debut on the last day of the campaign last season, but has since been able to get crucial experience of first-team football with his country at the Arab Cup last summer and the AFCON.
His important role for Tunisia at the Arab Cup will undoubtably hold him in good stead when he’s offered a chance in the first-team at United.
Speaking to Versus on the magnitude of the club, Hannibal said: “Since the beginning, it’s been the biggest club in the world to me. That meant something crazy. But when I went to the national team with Tunisia and everyone was asking about it, and saying: “you play for United!”, you realise just how big it is.”
The youngster is yet to get his chance so far this season, despite making the bench a handful of times. But that will not stop him from taking his opportunity when it eventually comes.
“We all know the story of Manchester United bringing young players into the first team.” Hannibal explained. “We know they have made history with it, with the likes of Beckham, Paul Scholes and George Best. Everyone knows it can happen at any moment so we’re ready for it. All of the youth academy players, not just some of us. We work hard and wait for our moment, we know it’ll come.”
It is possible that the 19-year-old receives that moment at Old Trafford this weekend with him being the only viable option in the squad to replace either Matic or Pogba.
You could even imagine a possibility that he starts the match considering the circumstances. The two men in front of him are leaving the club in a matter of months and there is little pressure, with United already six points adrift of the top four.
While it’s more likely he will appear from the bench; seeing Hannibal’s talent on show would be a joy for many supporters in a period where there is little joy around the first-team.