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Manchester United player requirements could be blocked by Donny van de Beek’s departure.

The midfield player is headed for the Man Utd exit door in January, but his departure might make it impossible for a colleague to follow in his footsteps.

Despite being a member of eight Manchester United Premier League matchday squads this season—including the past four—Donny van de Beek has only played two minutes of football.

Erik ten Hag has been eager to leave, and he will not obstruct a January departure. Before he suffered a season-ending knee injury in United’s opening match of 2023, his former Ajax manager had employed him multiple times with little success.

The playmaker recovered in time for the summer preseason, and it seems that his goal against Lyon in the summer was a special occasion for him. However, this season, he has only been offered two substitute appearances, which has led him to strongly hint about leaving in November.

“I need to start playing soon, either at another club or at Man United if not. I believe I need to have ambition,” he remarked. “I’ve loved the game my entire life. I have an intense passion for football. Although I work at United and make a good livelihood, money is not what drives me. I want every day at work to be enjoyable.

Van de Beek will find buyers, if maybe not at the magnitude he seems destined for. The 26-year-old played a significant role in helping Ajax advance to the Champions League semifinals in 2019, but that was the pinnacle of his career to date.

Despite United’s midfield deficit at one point due to their injury issue, he has not been able to get a single start this season. During that time, Hannibal Mejbri was utilized, demonstrating his levels of development that he had developed while last season on loan at Birmingham City.

The Tunisia star has played in just six Premier League minutes since September, and his most recent start was at the beginning of November. His experiences have demonstrated growth, but more work still has to be done.

He has now had three yellow cards in his six first-team appearances. He was possibly fortunate to avoid being sent off early in his most recent starting lineup during the League Cup loss to Newcastle. Former Birmingham manager John Eustace praised his discipline, saying he did a good job controlling his raucous playing style.

Hannibal may require another loan manager with the same kind of demeanor, but he was lucky to have such a forgiving employer who was prepared to take the good with the bad. Still, he deserves more playing time for himself.

The 20-year-old was a regular starter at St. Andrew’s last season, but as was to be expected, he has only managed to log 400 minutes thus far. He needs more competitive minutes to hone his skills, which would need another loan stint.

If Van de Beek departs, Erik ten Hag might decide to retain Hannibal on staff. There is little chance that United will be able to sign another midfield player in January because of their financial constraints.

The team is also open to offers for Casemiro, even if it would seem foolish to move him in the middle of the season given his declining performance. United does have adequate coverage in terms of numbers.

There should be ample body count with Mason Mount, Christian Eriksen, Scott McTominay, Sofyan Amrabat, Kobbie Mainoo, and Bruno Fernandes. Nevertheless, injuries have beset United this season, so more games will come if the Reds do lose to the Europa League.

Amrabat will travel with Morocco to the African Cup of Nations in January for a few weeks as well. Ten Hag has always spoken in favor of having a roster to pick from, and Amrabat’s temporary departure is just one more argument in favor of keeping Hannibal.

Hannibal has proven he can be a great asset, and the United manager will need all the assistance he can get to turn around United’s season. One may argue that being surrounded by elite players at Carrington will help him maintain his current level of performance.

However, Hannibal needs competitive minutes if he is to advance. There is nothing like them. Even though he might not receive many at United, he might stay there given Van van Beek’s likely departure.

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