Manchester United Boss Erik Ten Hag's Prayers Can Be Answered By Andre Onana

The Inter Milan shot-stopper is tailor-made for the Red Devils
10:00, 30 Jun 2023

Manchester United’s handling of their goalkeeping department has been one of the stories of the summer. David De Gea accepted a contract on reduced terms, only to see it withdrawn. His deal expires on 30th June. Dean Henderson, who spent last season on loan at Nottingham Forest, is edging towards the exit door on a permanent basis. Jack Butland is heading to Rangers after his loan spell. The Red Devils face the very real prospect of Tom Heaton starting pre-season as their number one. 

But there is apparently movement in this area, with Inter Milan shot-stopper Andre Onana being identified by manager Erik ten Hag as the ideal candidate. It is easy to see why. Fluent in the ways of sweeper-keeping, Onana was a vital component of Inter’s run to the Champions League final. He is also known to the manager from their shared time at Ajax, where Onana lifted three Eredivisie titles.


De Gea is coming off a season with many facets. His still-elite shot-stopping saw him scoop the Premier League Golden Gloves for most clean sheets. And yet, his lack of fluency with his feet and a disastrous display in the FA Cup final appears to have him heading for the door. 

De Gea’s much-publicised inability to adapt to the broadening role of goalkeepers would be no such barrier for Onana. A modern sweeper-keeper, Inter boss Simone Inzaghi charges him with starting the side’s attacks. This factor was not lost on Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who sung Onana’s praises in the wake of the Champions League final. Calling the Cameroon international “a holding midfielder” is high praise from someone who used to be one and who has deployed greats like Sergio Busquets and Rodri in his teams.

Onana is a creative, risk-taking keeper. Given United were lumpen on occasion in attack last year, struggling to pass through the lines and break teams down, he could be a godsend. Whether allowing his defenders to push out an extra yard or two before finding them or splitting the opposition with balls to the midfield and forwards, Onana can do it all.


Obviously passing isn’t everything for a goalkeeper, despite its increased emphasis. You still have to be able to keep the ball out of the net. Onana isn’t the most confident from high balls and headers, which could see him come unstuck against more direct sides. But his eight clean sheets in the Champions League last season, more than any other keeper bodes well. The fact he kept these clean sheets while also making the most saves of any custodian in the competition is seriously impressive.

There will be a period of adjustment of course. Sometimes that period can end a goalkeeper’s career at a club almost as quickly as it began. Claudio Bravo never recovered from a ropey start to life at Manchester City. Guardiola was only able to sculpt his title-winning juggernaut when Ederson replaced him. Onana will have to get up to speed with the Premier League quickly if he is to prove himself as De Gea’s long-term replacement.

But of all the goalkeepers linked with the soon-to-be-vacant post, Onana feels like the best option. A football-literate and brave player with the ball at his feet who offers solid shot-stopping, he feels like a foundation for Ten Hag’s ongoing United rebuild. The way United have treated De Gea is disrespectful in the extreme. But at least if they sign Onana they will have made the best of a hopelessly mishandled situation.

man utd to win the 23-24 premier league: 10/1*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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