Hannibal Mejbri was a mascot for his brother’s team as a kid but this summer he could take centre stage.

The midfielder impressed in Manchester United’s opening pre-season friendly against Leeds United, where he started in midfield and played the first 45 minutes. The Tunisia international spent time on loan at Birmingham City in the Championship last season and impressed.

German giants Borussia Dortmund are monitoring the 20-year-old ahead of a potential transfer bid but Hannibal has the chance to stake a claim for more involvement at Old Trafford over the coming weeks. His flowing locks mean he always catches the eye but his performance against Leeds in Norway merited attention.

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He produced an industrious showing and a performance that emphasised the commitment and character he brings to every match, with added flair to boot. With question marks surrounding the long-term futures of Fred, Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek, there could be an opening for Hannibal at Old Trafford next term.

His United career so far has been limited to 76 Premier League minutes across one start and two late substitute appearances. But he featured for his country at the World Cup and made 41 appearances for Birmingham last season in the No.8 position. Ahead of that move he spoke of his learning process at United since his arrival as a promising teenager from Monaco and now he will want to prove he’s ready to graduate from young prospect to senior professional.

“Being in the first-team environment is different, you learn a lot and how to act and how to train,” he said, speaking last season. “There are some big names in the team. The only thing I can do if I don’t play is to learn and ask some questions and follow what they do.”

He will now hope to follow them into the first team and complete a journey that began on the inner city pitches in Paris, where he learned to be tough and uncompromising. That is a trait he certainly brings to the professional arena. He was booked 11 times last season and managed to earn a caution against Leeds on Wednesday despite it being a friendly. But it’s an essential part of his game, an aspect that wins over supporters and it shouldn’t mask his ability on the ball.

“Even if people are more physical than me, it just makes me think that I need to be more aggressive to win the ball,” he said, speaking in February. “Afterwards, I can show my technical abilities. I always wanted to be the best.

“On those small pitches in Paris, they are free for everyone, but only the best get to play. If you are not the best then you don’t stay on. There are only five on a team and you need to be one of them, otherwise you are on the side and you have to work to be the best.”

Hannibal’s work this summer is to take his United chance. Whether he cements himself in Ten Hag’s thinking or raises his profile and earns a move elsewhere, it feels like a pivotal summer for a player packed with potential.

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