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Nicky Butt believes Hannibal Mejbri will prove “an excellent player” – Man United News And Transfer News


Nicky Butt has praised the talent Hannibal Mejbri possesses, believing the youngster capable of becoming an “excellent player” for Manchester United.

Speaking to The Manchester Evening News, Butt recounted the difficulty in securing Hannibal’s services as a talented 16-year old from Monaco.

He was attracting interest across Europe, with Tottenham, Bayern Munich and Barcelona all vying for his signature.

United paid an initial fee of €5 million, though this has the potential to rise to €10m with add-ons; a pricey fee for a player so young, but one which underscores the reputation Hannibal had already built for himself in French football.

Butt, speaking at the time of the deal in 2019, described the Tunisian youngster as “very, very talented” but highlighted his need to improve physically. In his role as United’s Head of Development (which he would later depart from in 2021), Butt was more qualified than anyone else to assess Hannibal’s initial promise in England.

Despite having left Old Trafford for pastures new, Butt has maintained a watchful eye on his former pupils, such was his fondness for them as people:

“I still follow all of the players that I worked with because I genuinely think they’re good lads, good human beings and Hannibal was a great kid.” 

Butt acknowledges he has not seen Hannibal up close in over two years, but is optimistic about the development he will have undergone in this time:

“He’s such a talented player and I’ve not seen him train for two years, so I can’t comment now, but back then he was immature in the mind, as you would be at that age, so hopefully he’s matured on and off the pitch.”

United’s former midfield dynamo is firm in his belief that the Tunisian starlet can be an “immense” player for Manchester United. But even if things do not work out at Old Trafford, Butt believes Hannibal will still be a success “wherever he goes over the next few years.”

Talent alone is not always enough to make the grade at a club the size of United.

Butt admits it can be “difficult to get into Man United’s first team because the club has the funds to buy anyone they want.” You are not necessarily in competition against the current United cohort of midfielders, you’re competing against any quality midfielder across Europe, such is the financial might at Old Trafford.

“That makes it a challenge for young players to go cement a position in the squad, but he’s an immense talent and there’s a few [youngsters he worked with] that are still there and a few that have left.” 

A promising pre-season for Hannibal has reportedly made him a long-term part of Erik ten Hag’s plans, with a new contract being discussed. Though the midfielder may still be sent on loan this season, this is felt to only be a means towards securing his future at United, not the first step in a transfer away from Old Trafford.

Hannibal’s potent combination of technique, tenaciousness and tireless running certainly make him a midfielder who should thrive in Ten Hag’s system, and the club appears to recognise this. Which will be music to the ear of his former mentor, Butt.

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