On Thursday, Erik ten Hag held an open training session for his Manchester United side ahead of Saturday's friendly against Aston Villa in Perth.
Journalists and fans alike were both present at the open session, with the Australian Reds being able to see heroes they otherwise wouldn’t live in the flesh and journalists getting insight into Ten Hag’s work with the team.
A plethora of youngsters have been brought along to Manchester United’s tour of the far east, and one of those is the talented Tunisian, Hannibal Mejbri, who Erik ten Hag was spotted giving advice to.
In a short video, the Dutchman was seen in deep conversation with his player, who is one of the brightest stars coming out of United’s academy right now.
Bought from Monaco at just 16 years of age in a deal that could rise up to €10 million, Mejbri is the real deal.
Nicknamed ‘Sideshow Bob’ because of his trademark hair, the midfielder possesses serious technical quality.
He also has great maturity in possession for his age, almost always making the right decision on the ball, although out of it, work still needs to be done.
His intensity and fight are maybe unmatched by any footballer at the club, although oftentimes he can get carried away and end up in altercations with other players.
Whilst his aggression is an excellent trait - particularly in Ten Hag’s intense, high-pressing system - it must be tempered and by the looks of things Ten Hag is guiding him, which can only be a positive.
After this advice, Mejbri was seen with the group of ‘starting’ players in the next drill, which was an original hint that the number 46 might be in the starting team for United’s final friendly game in Australia.
Since then, Ten Hag has almost confirmed his place in the side, telling reporters: “Hannibal plays some minutes now, I think he did quite well in training as well, he makes a good impression.”
Against Crystal Palace, the attacking midfielder was deployed in a role similar to that of a ‘false nine’ and whilst it is unlikely he would be used here against Villa due to Anthony Martial’s form, it is clear his best qualities come out higher up the pitch.
One position United fans could see Mejbri is on the left wing, where often-likened to players Paul Pogba and Jack Grealish have excelled in the past. This would make the most out of the Tunisian’s tendency to carry the ball.
The teenager’s intensity would certainly add something to United’s press, which whilst much improved under Ten Hag is still imperfect and requires work.
When he took over at Manchester United, Erik ten Hag had asked for a report on a number of United’s academy players to familiarise himself with their games.
Mejbri would undoubtedly have been one of these players given his talent and status as a key player in the academy, who he captained on multiple occasions.
This leadership is another reason why the player’s development is of such great interest to Ten Hag, and he is certainly one to keep an eye on across the next season.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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