Onana, that’s his name – the lowdown on Manchester United’s new goalkeeper

Onana, That’s His Name – The Lowdown On Manchester United’s New Goalkeeper
Andre Onana, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By Mark Mann-Bryans, PA

Inter Milan goalkeeper Andre Onana is set to join Manchester United after a deal was struck with both player and club, the PA news agency understands.

The 27-year-old will replace David De Gea as first choice between the posts for United boss Erik ten Hag, who previously worked with Onana at Ajax.


Here, the PA news agency asks why Onana is the man selected to take the gloves at Old Trafford.

Why does Ten Hag like Onana?

United manager Erik ten Hag
United manager Erik ten Hag, pictured, has worked with Andre Onana at Ajax (Martin Rickett/PA)

Since being appointed as United boss last summer, Ten Hag has been keen to instil in his team a structure of playing out from the back. That means he wants his goalkeeper and defenders to be comfortable in possession, happy to have the ball at their feet and build attacks themselves. De Gea, for all of the shot-stopping prowess that brought two Premier League Golden Gloves his way, was never a goalkeeper who seemed pleased to be given such a role. Onana is different and revels in the role and proved it in Inter’s Champions League final run last season. He is already accustomed to Ten Hag’s approach and it will be hoped he can settle straight into the United system without much need for adaptation, his abilities also bringing a calming influence to a backline that wilted under the pressures that comes with Ten Hag’s preferred method of play.


Where have I heard of Onana before?

Onana put in an impressive performance in Inter's Champions League final defeat to Manchester City
Onana put in an impressive performance in Inter’s Champions League final defeat to Manchester City (Mike Egerton/PA)

Two years ago Onana was heavily linked with a move to the Premier League, with Arsenal among the reported suitors. Those links materialised at a time when Onana was serving a ban for violating UEFA’s doping rules – his initial one-year suspension reduced to nine months on appeal. Having tested positive for the diuretic drug Furosemide, Onana claimed to have taken his wife’s medication by mistake. His ban began in February 2021 and featured for Ajax just six times the following season before leaving for Inter when his contract expired.

What is his international pedigree?

Cameroon manager Rigobert Song axed Onana from his World Cup squad in Qatar last year
Cameroon manager Rigobert Song, pictured, axed Onana from his World Cup squad in Qatar last year (Mike Egerton/PA)

Well, there is more drama there, too. Born in Nkol Ngok, just south of Cameroon’s capital Yaounde, Onana played for the youth teams of his home country. He was handed his senior international debut in September 2016, just months after being given his Ajax bow, and went on to make 34 appearances. The last of those – to date – came in Cameroon’s opening game of the 2022 World Cup, a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland. He was then dropped by manager Rigobert Song and left the Indomitable Lions camp following an alleged bust-up with the head coach over his tactics. Onana soon announced his retirement from international football and, so far, has not made a return to the Cameroon set-up.

So what will he bring to the Red Devils?

Having worked together in Amsterdam, Ten Hag will no doubt believe he can get the best out of Onana at United. With a goalkeeper to play the way Ten Hag wants to approach the game, it should spread confidence in a squad which looked short of it at times last season. Onana also has plenty of silverware in his cabinet, winning the Eredivisie three times with Ajax, also claiming the KNVB Cup twice and picking up a runners-up medal following defeat in the 2017 Europa League final against United. He went on to win the 2023 Coppa Italia with Inter, where he once again came up on the losing side of a major European final after the 1-0 loss to City in June.


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