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Premier League • England

Man Utd loanee labelled ‘phenomenal’ after record-breaking displays give Ten Hag a decision to make

Birmingham City pair Hannibal Mejbri and Jonathan Leko

A Man Utd star is earning rave reviews after breaking records while out on loan, with one trait in particular catching the eye in a big way.

Birmingham City has proved a happy hunting ground for Manchester United loanees of late. Tahith Chong and Teden Mengi both joined the Championship side on a temporary basis last season.

Chong in particular impressed enough to earn a permanent move last deadline day. Mengi, meanwhile, is back at Old Trafford after earning vital first-team experience at St. Andrew’s.

Midfield firebrand, Hannibal Mejbri, walked that same path over the summer when joining Birmingham on a season-long loan.

The 19-year-old is perhaps best known for a series of energetic and aggressive cameos in a United shirt that produced two quickfire bookings.

However, he’s now making headlines for all the right reasons at Birmingham and manager John Eustace could not be happier.

Mejbri is displaying a tremendous work-rate each and every week that Eustace claimed has broken club records in the distance covered category.

His full throttle efforts resulted in a rest last time out against Blackburn Rovers, though Eustace was keen to point out the benching was down to his recent exertions and not a dip in form.

Record-breaking Hannibal Mejbri labelled “phenomenal”

“The way he has played in the last couple of games has been phenomenal,” said Eustace in the aftermath of the 2-1 defeat to Blackburn (via the Mirror).

“He has broken records for total distance [covered], all that kind of stuff.

“It was important we also used the squad. [Juninho] Bacuna came in today and did well and Hanni came on for that last half hour and was very good.

“I have said it is a squad game, everyone will be used, we are certainly stretched at the moment but it’s important everyone gets that opportunity to play and feel wanted.”

Mejbri was voted Man of the Match by the club’s fans on Twitter for his dynamic display against Hull City one week ago.

Mejbri has checked his ego at the door

Responding to Birmingham fans’ appreciation of the Man Utd loanee, Eustace continued: “He is a cracking young player, we are very fortunate to have him here.

“The most pleasing thing is that work-rate. He has come from Manchester United with a big reputation. But to earn the right to play, earn the right to do anything you have to work hard. And to play in this team as well you need a team of workers.

“He has come in, he has shown he is very hungry, he has got that desire to work hard, the effort is there. He is doing very well at the moment. I haven’t seen him tired yet.

“All he does is gives me the thumbs up, I don’t think he understands what I am saying: ‘Yes coach, no problems’.

“Listen, he’s obviously a talent, let’s hope he just continues that, there are going to be times when he has to come out of the team, going to have to be rested with rotations but at the moment he is playing fantastically well.

“I think the lads are really enjoying playing with him.”

Could he do what James Garner couldn’t?

Mejbri is operating primarily in central midfield areas and would be a candidate to play in the double pivot upon returning to Old Trafford.

His work-rate and selfless displays will certainly give Ten Hag a decision to make upon expiry of his loan next summer.

Fellow academy graduate, James Garner, was unable to convince Ten Hag over the summer and was duly sold to Everton for around £9m.

That was despite excelling on loan with Nottingham Forest who he helped gain promotion to the Premier League.

If the 19-year-old Mejbri continues to earn rave reviews at Birmingham, he’ll stand a better chance than Garner of convincing Ten Hag he has a future in Manchester and it’ll start with a decision next summer.

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