Erik ten Hag names the youngster who is setting the standard at Man Utd

Erik ten Hag has hailed the efforts of Hannibal Mejbri, saying the youngster is sending a message to the rest of the Manchester United squad.

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Hannibal was not expected to play a huge part in United’s season but over the past few games has grown into an important player for Ten Hag.

He came off the bench to score a stunning goal in the defeat to Brighton – his first for the club – before starting the wins against Burnley and Crystal Palace last week.

In both victories, the 20-year-old performed very well, showcasing the raw talent he demonstrated while on loan at Birmingham last season as well as in his fleeting appearances for United beforehand.

Given his form, Hannibal could be in to start again on Saturday when the Red Devils host the Eagles in the Premier League, but there is plenty of competition in the midfield area from Bruno Fernandes, Mason Mount, Casemiro, Sofyan Amrabat, Christian Eriksen and Scott McTominay.

But despite his inexperience compared to his peers, the Tunisian international has the backing of his manager.

‘I think he [Hannibal] gives a very good message to the rest of the squad, that this is the demand and this has to be the standard,’ Ten Hag said in his pre-match press conference on Friday.

‘When you are playing that position, [this is] what you have to bring to the team to get success. Especially when you are playing against possession teams, he is a really good fit and can give a good contribution to a good performance and to a result.

‘I don’t think it is that quick because before I already came here he was already in the first team. He made his debut and, last year, he was on loan, so this year he is making progress.

‘That’s why he deserved an opportunity and he has now taken the opportunity. As I said previously on former questions, every time he has to improve and he has to give the evidence that he deserves to play and that goes for everyone and every player in the squad.’

Prior to this season, Hannibal had only made three appearances for United, but last campaign he racked up 41 games for Birmingham in the Championship, scoring once and assisting six, with his lone strike winning the club’s Goal of the Season award.

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